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posted: 11/6/2013 5:32 PM

Winfield considering options for crumbling roads

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  • Winfield officials say nearly 30 percent of the village's streets are in poor to "failing" condition and that it would cost more than $4 million to repair them.

      Winfield officials say nearly 30 percent of the village's streets are in poor to "failing" condition and that it would cost more than $4 million to repair them.
    Daily Herald file photo

 
 

With almost a third of Winfield's streets in poor or worse condition, officials say the town is in "urgent" need of a plan to generate enough money to pay for road repairs.

On Thursday night, village trustees are hoping to reach a consensus on what the funding proposal should be.

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"We're out of time," Village President Erik Spande said. "If the village is going to act and we wish to fix some of our roads next year, we have to make a decision now."

Despite maintaining a balanced budget, Winfield hasn't raised enough money to keep its 35 miles of roads in good condition. Nearly 30 percent of the neighborhood streets are in poor to "failing" condition.

The village is planning to ask voters in March to approve a quarter-cent sales-tax increase to raise money for road repairs.

But the $70,000 a year in extra revenue the proposed higher tax would generate is far short of the more than $4 million Winfield needs to fix its worst streets. And the price tag for repairs will only increase.

If a failing road isn't resurfaced in time, officials say, it would need to be reconstructed at a cost that's up to four times more expensive.

"In five years, our $4 million problem will become a $10 million problem," Spande said.

Even if Winfield secures the $4 million for repairs, it will need about $650,000 a year to maintain its roads on a 20-year resurfacing cycle. The village receives about half that amount annually from gasoline taxes and other sources.

Revenue options trustees are expected to consider during Thursday's meeting include asking voters to approve a property tax increase, creating special service areas and resurrecting the town's vehicle sticker program.

If vehicle stickers are reinstated, the $40-per-sticker cost could generate roughly $200,000 a year, officials estimate. But bringing back the program would be unpopular, cost a significant amount to implement and track, and cause enforcement issues, village officials say.

Under a special service area proposal, every property owner in an area would pay a share of the cost to fix a road. However, some neighborhoods may choose to let their streets fail, officials said.

Another possibility is for the village to use its bonding authority. Winfield can borrow up to $3.8 million for projects without voter approval.

Spande said he believes trustees likely will settle on a combination of options to address the problem.

Either way, Spande says the board must reach a tentative agreement this week so a formal vote on a plan can happen on Nov. 21.

"I am going to be asking them (trustees) to make a decision so we can stop kicking the can down the road," he said. "We've done all of our homework. So there's no reason to delay."

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