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updated: 3/14/2014 12:03 AM

Planning, but no funding for flood projects this year in Arlington Hts.

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While Arlington Heights is moving toward decisions about a large and expensive plan to alleviate the village's flooding problems, none of those fixes will show up financially in the 2014-2015 budget.

The village's approach to flooding will be a multiyear project, and likely a very expensive one, said Public Works Director Scott Shirley during a review of his department's finances at Thursday's budget meeting.

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Following the large rain events in the summer of 2011, the village embarked on two separate flood studies -- one to look at seven separate storm sewer areas and another to look at the combined sewer system in the village, Shirley said. There have been setbacks along the way though, with a drought the first summer of the study and major snow events this year. Both studies are soon to be completed though and will be presented to the village in July or August with a range of options, he said.

The topic came up on Thursday when trustees questioned why there was no money provided for flood construction in the budget for the fiscal year beginning May 1.

"Let's say a decision is made that we need a million dollars right away to do some kind of improvements and get things going," said Trustee Bert Rosenberg. "Do we just pull that out of reserves or what?"

But village officials said the process likely won't move that quickly. When the studies are presented this summer, Shirley said trustees will see a range of projects with budget figures and basic layouts, but then they will need to choose and prioritize.

"Is it a 5-year program or a 20 year program," Shirley said. "The numbers are going to be pretty big."

Once trustees decide on the scope of the project, design and engineering for any construction will take time, so it could still be another few years before construction begins, he said.

"There's a lot of unanswered policy and financial questions that will need to be answered before we can start deign on any project that will lead to construction," Shirley said.

Aside from the planning and design, the village still has to figure out how to pay for these flood projects. There is currently no funding mechanism to pay for fixes that could be in the tens of millions of dollars.

"That's the magic question, how much is it going to be," said Finance Director Tom Kuehne. "Hopefully we'll find that out in a few months and figure out how to finance it. At this point it's a little early without even knowing."

For residents who experienced flooding in 2011 it may seem like the fix is taking a long time, but Shirley said for a project of this size and scope, it is moving along at a good pace.

"The timeline makes sense," Shirley said. "This is a long process."

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