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updated: 3/5/2014 9:44 AM

Four Naperville capital projects to get extra review

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Naperville City Council members on Tuesday night approved a $300 million capital improvements spending plan for the next five years, but one council member asked for some projects in the plan to receive extra scrutiny.

Council member Steve Chirico voted along with the rest of the council to approve the capital improvements plan, but he then asked that four projects planned by the public works, water and transportation, engineering, and development departments be reviewed by the financial advisory board.

City Manager Doug Krieger said the projects -- construction of a compressed natural gas fueling station, installation of an automated water meter reading system, installation of LED bulbs in streetlights and adding electric vehicle charging stations -- will be discussed by the financial advisory board at a future meeting.

Chirico said he selected these projects because they do not have designated funding sources, so the city will need to take out a loan to pay for them. He said during a workshop about the capital improvements plan he opposes borrowing money at this time.

"I want to run these through the financial advisory board to have a set of public eyes look at these, vet it and tell us if the return on investment really is there," Chirico said about the projects.

Installation of LED bulbs in streetlights across the city is the costliest of the projects to be considered by the financial advisory board, at $5.35 million to be split across the last two years of the five-year plan. Addition of electric vehicle charging stations is the cheapest at $30,000.

The capital improvements plan estimates a cost of $350,000 in the budget year that begins May 1 for installation of an automated system to read water meter data from 42,000 meters and process monthly bills. Krieger said the project could cost as much as $4.5 million total.

The last project to be reviewed, construction of a compressed natural gas fueling station for fleet vehicles, is estimated to cost $2.1 million in the budget year that begins May 1, 2015.

Council member Joseph McElroy said he likes the idea of having citizens on the financial advisory board review the four projects Chirico pulled from the capital improvements plan to determine if they are sound investments for the city. He suggested the board could begin weighing in on the entire capital improvements plan during next year's budget cycle, but that idea did not gain traction.

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