Road services deal still eludes Naperville, township road district

  • Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico says it's "disappointing" the city and the Naperville Township road district haven't reached a deal on road services.

    Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico says it's "disappointing" the city and the Naperville Township road district haven't reached a deal on road services.

  • Naperville Township Highway Commissioner Stan Wojtasiak says he thinks his road district and the city of Naperville are "kind of far" from reaching a deal for road services.

    Naperville Township Highway Commissioner Stan Wojtasiak says he thinks his road district and the city of Naperville are "kind of far" from reaching a deal for road services.

 
 
Updated 5/4/2016 3:33 PM

The projected annual savings in a road maintenance deal between the city of Naperville and the Naperville Township road district are down to $700,000 as efforts to forge an agreement become increasingly political.

The savings projections began at $800,000 when the city in February said it could provide road maintenance, landscaping and snow plowing services for 49.3 lane miles of streets under the township road district's jurisdiction more cheaply than the district's budget of about $1.8 million.

 

Since then, the deal has been adjusted to include more frequent street sweeping, leaf collection and brush pickup, and an administrative employee to answer phones and maintain records.

Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico said those changes, made at the request of Highway Commissioner Stan Wojtasiak, hurt the value of a potential agreement.

"For each concession the city makes, the tax savings is reduced," Chirico said.

He questioned Wojtasiak's pledge last month to work "in good faith" toward an agreement as long as the money makes sense.

"We've addressed all their issues," Chirico said. "In good faith, you should have an agreement. We don't. That's very disappointing."

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City Manager Doug Krieger said the number of unresolved issues appears to be decreasing, but progress toward an agreement that could begin as soon as July 1 has been slow. He said Wojtasiak continues to dispute proposed savings, but has not provided any detail or analysis to back up his concerns.

"We have given them comparative numbers," Wojtasiak said. "Every service that they offered, I told them how much it cost the township to do it."

City council member Kevin Coyne said he's heard no reasonable justification not to move forward with an agreement that could last until March 31, 2021.

Services the city would provide include brush collection, emerald ash borer treatment, forestry, general road maintenance, leaf collection, mosquito abatement, mowing and herbicide, storm sewer maintenance and winter operations. If the highway commissioner chooses, two categories of capital services also can be included to add street maintenance improvements and sidewalk repair.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I think this deal should have been done. It should have been done a long time ago," Coyne said Tuesday night as the topic came up on the council's agenda. "Someone should be here to explain why not and that we're not just hearing stall tactics to protect their turf."

In 12 years as highway commissioner, Wojtasiak said he's attended only one or two council meetings and he didn't see the need to start showing up now.

"Nobody asked me to come," Wojtasiak said. "Nobody said they wanted me there to talk."

Wojtasiak said he's not stalling, but negotiations move slowly because the advisers who help him review each city proposal, including two accountants and an engineer, aren't always at his beck and call.

The two sides still are working through Wojtasiak's request to include a driver to handle unplanned issues such as roadkill, obstacles on the road and drainage ditch problems.

Bill Novack, the city's director of transportation, engineering and development, said the cost of that work already is rolled into the contract in the category of "general roadway services," but the city now will spell out each function more directly.

Other updates to the city's proposal made in response to Wojtasiak's concerns mean 866 unincorporated township homes that would be affected would receive more frequent services than incorporated city residents: six yearly street sweepings instead of two, six brush pickups instead of one and six leaf collections instead of three.

Wojtasiak said he thinks the two sides are "kind of far" from an agreement, but he will continue presenting his side in discussions with the city.

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