Mundelein likely adding fee, liquor tax to fund flood relief

  • Jorge Morales and his son, Ariel, try to clear a sewer drain in front of their Mundelein home during a flood in July 2017. Village officials are finalizing a $10 million plan to improve local sewers to reduce flooding.

      Jorge Morales and his son, Ariel, try to clear a sewer drain in front of their Mundelein home during a flood in July 2017. Village officials are finalizing a $10 million plan to improve local sewers to reduce flooding. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 7/2/2018 5:03 PM

A $10 million flood-control project in Mundelein likely will be funded by a 3 percent tax on packaged liquor sales and a fee added to water bills, village leaders have decided.

Trustees informally settled on those two options last week, nearly a year after a July 2017 rainstorm backed up stormwater sewers and caused a catastrophic flood that damaged many homes in town, particularly in the Western Slope neighborhood near Route 45 and Division Street.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

That area historically floods after heavy rains. It did so again this past Tuesday, but not as significantly as last year.

Residents angered by the 2017 flood demanded action from village hall, prompting officials to study the problem.

Consultants discovered the village's stormwater system is not big enough to handle heavy storms like the one that hit last summer.

They also found rainwater is getting into sanitary sewers through cracks in pipes and improper customer hookups, which resulted in some sewage backups in homes.

The consultants suggested installing additional stormwater pipes and bigger pipes, building detention ponds and repairing sanitary sewer pipes as possible solutions.

This project primarily will focus on the Western Slope neighborhood, but money will be spent elsewhere, too.

Crews will install larger pipes along segments west of Route 45 and then create a detention pond east of Route 45 to handle the water.

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Mayor Steve Lentz said the project is urgently needed.

"We have fast-tracked this process," Lentz said. "Design will be completed this winter, and construction will begin next year and (be) completed in 2020."

Officials plan to borrow money to pay for the effort. The liquor tax and stormwater fee would be used to pay back the loan over 15 years.

Trustees considered a 25-year payback schedule but went with a shorter timetable to save about $2.5 million in interest payments, Village Administrator John Lobaito said.

The stormwater utility fee would be tiered, with owners of larger properties paying more. The monthly fee would range from $3 to $30 and could generate $450,000 annually, according to village documents.

Homeowners would be assessed the $3 fee, regardless of property size.

The liquor tax puts some of the financial burden on nonresidents, proponents say.

"We are being diligent in finding ways to fund this project without overburdening the residents and businesses," Trustee Dawn Abernathy said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The proposed 3 percent tax would bring the total sales tax on packaged alcohol to 11 percent and could raise $700,000 annually, according to documents.

Trustees are expected to formally greenlight the tax and fee July 23.

If approved, the liquor tax will be implemented in September or October, Lobaito said. The stormwater fee first would appear on January's bills.

Both are set to expire when the loans are paid off.

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