Gurnee budget calls for record spending on capital improvement projects

  • Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik

    Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik

  • The village of Gurnee will spend $14.9 million on capital improvements next fiscal year if the proposed budget is approved by the board on Monday. One of the biggest expenses is the construction of a new water tower at Knowles Road that will more than replace the output of the old one at fire station 1, pictured here being demolished in June.

    The village of Gurnee will spend $14.9 million on capital improvements next fiscal year if the proposed budget is approved by the board on Monday. One of the biggest expenses is the construction of a new water tower at Knowles Road that will more than replace the output of the old one at fire station 1, pictured here being demolished in June. Courtesy of the Village of Gurnee

 
 
Updated 3/29/2019 4:43 PM

Gurnee will spend $14.9 million on capital improvements next fiscal year -- the largest amount in village history -- if the village board approves the proposed budget at a meeting Monday night.

Of the total, $4.9 million is budgeted to go toward the construction of a new water tower, which is being built on village-owned land at 1525 Knowles Road, near Rollins Road.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The new tower, which was approved by the village board last March, is estimated to cost a total of $6.5 million and is designed to improve water pressure for residents on the west side.

"We've been planning the water tower project for a long time," Mayor Kristina Kovarik said. "That's a significant project."

Other significant capital improvements include $5 million in work for the village's transportation systems -- including resurfacing 4.6 miles of road -- and another $1.7 million for sewer system work.

"It's important work because the town is aging," Kovarik said. "We need to continue being committed to maintaining our infrastructure to maintain our curb appeal."

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The previous high in capital improvement spending was last year when the village spent $11.7 million.

Kovarik said she was proud that once again the budget was balanced and featured no revenue from property taxes. The budget projects the village will spend about $73 million, an increase of $2.9 million from last year, and expects to collect around $77 million in revenues.

Kovarik said officials were conservative in their revenue estimates even though the village's sales tax receipts continue to be strong.

"I'm still worried because there's all the signs of a recession," Kovarik said. "So we want to be conservative and not want to get caught short."

The revenue projections call for increases in the village amusement and hotel taxes. In May, the village board unanimously voted to increase the amusement tax to 4 percent from 3 percent and the hotel tax to 6 percent from 5 percent. At the time, village officials said the increases were expected to generate about $1 million in extra revenue. However, in the proposed budget village staff estimates increases of nearly twice that amount.

The amusement tax is expected to generate $3.4 million, an increase of about $984,000 over fiscal year 2017, and the hotel tax will generate $2.1 million, an increase of about $811,000 over fiscal 2017.

The tax increases aren't the only reasons why those revenues may be up since 2017; last year Six Flags Great America debuted its Holiday in the Park season, which meant the park stayed open through New Year's Eve. And in June 2018, Great Wolf Lodge opened at what used to be Key Lime Cove, which closed in 2016.

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