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posted: 7/2/2014 5:30 AM

Vehicle-fee-for-roadwork idea a no-go in Sugar Grove

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  • Video: Sugar Grove Vehicle Fee?

 
 

Sugar Grove residents won't pay a vehicle fee to the village any time soon.

The village board, after discussing the idea Tuesday, decided to postpone more discussion until early next year, when it begins to draw up the 2015-16 budget.

Nobody on the board spoke in favor of charging $100 to $300 per year per household and business, with the money going to maintain village streets.

A 2012 study of the condition of the streets suggested the village should be spending about $1 million more a year filling cracks, microsurfacing and resurfacing. At the rate it is doing such work, it would take 40 years to take care of all village streets, about twice as long as the life of a street. From 2004 to 2011, the village spent an average of $622,900 on street maintenance, with about one-third of that coming from the state or federal governments.

Charging $100 a year would raise $330,000, according to village administrator Brent Eichelberger. The village could levy the charge via utility bills, instead of selling windshield stickers.

"I have a hard time charging our residents $8 a month, a fee. I get it, our budgets are always tight, but I just can't see it. Whether we call it a permit fee or a tax, it is a tax," Trustee Kevin Geary said. He suggested the village look for "creative solutions" to get more roadwork done. He also suggested if the village does want to get money, it consider levying a special-service-area property tax instead of a fee, because owners can take a property-tax deduction on their income-tax returns.

Eichelberger said it is unlikely Sugar Grove will receive more motor-fuel tax money unless more people move there, and a population increase would likely require more roads to be built. The village uses motor-fuel tax money solely for roadwork. It also kicks in some money from surpluses in its general fund, but President Sean Michels said there wasn't anything left in the 2014-15 fiscal year, due to increased spending on road salt and snowplowing.

"There is no 'creative solution,'" Eichelberger said. "This is the same issue that every community is facing. ... The community just needs to understand the roads are going to be the best we can make them" with the money available.

And sometimes, he said, that means a repair on a bad road may be delayed, because the money is better spent preserving good pavement on another street.

Michels suggested that once the village is done paying back money it borrowed to extend Galena Boulevard to Municipal Drive, that money could be diverted to street maintenance. Sales taxes are repaying those bonds, which were issued in 2008 with a 20-year term. The village paid about $6.6 million of the project's $10.4 million cost.

Eichelberger also pointed out that many of the streets in the "new" subdivisions, built in the 1990s and early 2000s, should have work done.

"That first shot of preventive maintenance? We missed it," he said. Crack-filling is the first, and cheapest, work that should be done to preserve a street, according to the village's engineer.

Trustee Rick Montalto suggested "educating" residents, including developing a list of streets and their conditions, to garner support for a vehicle fee.

"People spend a hundred bucks to seal their driveway," Montalto said.

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