Green Oaks looks for Plan B after voters again nix road repair plan

 
 
Updated 11/9/2016 7:34 PM
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  • Road repairs were made this fall on Saddle Hill Road south of White Fence Lane in Green Oaks, but voters Tuesday rejected a ballot measure to raise funds for a comprehensive approach to street repairs in town.

      Road repairs were made this fall on Saddle Hill Road south of White Fence Lane in Green Oaks, but voters Tuesday rejected a ballot measure to raise funds for a comprehensive approach to street repairs in town. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • The road surface along King Drive in Green Oaks is breaking apart. Voters on Tuesday rejected a municipal property tax to fund street repairs.

    The road surface along King Drive in Green Oaks is breaking apart. Voters on Tuesday rejected a municipal property tax to fund street repairs.

Green Oaks officials will search for a Plan B after voters -- for the second time in eight months -- rejected a village proposal to raise money for road repairs.

The degree of defeat wasn't as strong as in the March primary. But despite a different focus and requesting a lower amount, Green Oaks' quest fell flat with voters Tuesday.

About 55 percent of voters nixed a measure that would have created the village's first municipal property tax. In March, 61 percent of voters thought authorizing the village to issue $18.8 million in bonds for a comprehensive road repair program was a bad idea.

The owner of a house valued at $300,000 would have paid about $93 more in property taxes each year for the most recent proposal, compared with $453 more each year under the first request.

But the sting of defeat is the same, and instead of a dramatically more intense road repair program in 2017, village officials will consider what to do next.

"It's just tough for people to want to pay any more taxes," Village President Bernard Wysocki said.

Three public information sessions were held and a detailed explanation of the issue and possibilities was posted online, to no avail. After examining and rejecting other options, such as a utility tax, village leaders settled on a municipal property tax as the most consistent and stable source of funds for street repairs.

"At the meetings we held ... the vast majority said, 'Great. Let's get going. Let's get to my road,'" Wysocki said.

The village intended to combine $1 million in cash reserves -- about half the total on hand -- with other funding sources to boost road repair spending from $275,000 this year to $1.68 million in 2017. That's now off the table, according to Trustee Bryan Muskat.

Results from Precinct 169 in the northwest part of town may be an indicator of what happened. Subdivisions there are newer, meaning the tax impact would be higher than average. Roads there also are in better shape than many in town, and the 60 percent of voters who said "no" may not have wanted the money spent outside their neighborhood.

That thinking didn't apply to Jim Moran, who lives on a section of Rockland Road that has been off the work list since it was made to end in a cul-de-sac 30 years ago. Moran was a Libertyville trustee in 2012 when voters there agreed to a tax increase to fund a $20 million road repair program.

"I'm not a big fan of tax increases and we don't have a municipal property tax in Green Oaks, but this is something I really was hoping would pass," he said. "There are a lot of streets that haven't been touched in years."

Residents were told current funding allows the village to repair up to a half-mile of roadway per year, and about one-third of a mile if it is concentrated on the worst streets. There are 27.5 miles of roads in the village, and repair costs will rise with time, officials say.

The village will receive a modest boost of new revenue for roads from an off-track betting facility being built.

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