How much are Hawthorn Woods residents willing to pay to fix roads?

 
 
Posted12/6/2018 5:35 AM
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  • Owens Road in Hawthorn Woods is severely deteriorated and needs to be rebuilt.

    Owens Road in Hawthorn Woods is severely deteriorated and needs to be rebuilt. Courtesy of village of Hawthorn Woods

  • This culvert collapse on Darlington Road in Hawthorn Woods is an example of a failing storm sewer system, village officials say.

    This culvert collapse on Darlington Road in Hawthorn Woods is an example of a failing storm sewer system, village officials say. Courtesy of village of Hawthorn Woods

Hawthorn Woods residents who have responded to village requests for input on the condition of roads and other projects favor raising property taxes to pay for upgrades, officials say. How much voters will support is the next question.

"We had considered issuing bonds to fund the program," said Kristin Kazenas, the village's chief financial officer. "What we heard is they wanted a more sustainable funding source."

By levying a tax to pay for infrastructure improvements rather than borrowing money by issuing bonds, the village will save $13.5 million in interest over 20 years, Kazenas added.

"Roads are like laundry -- you're never done with your roads," she said. That's why a sustainable funding source like property tax makes "fiscally responsible" sense, according to Kazenas.

How much is to be determined but the amount to be sought will rely heavily on the scope to which residents want to tackle roads and other big ticket projects, as the storm sewer system is beginning to fail villagewide.

Village leaders want to set language for a referendum question likely to appear on ballots in the April 2 consolidated election.

Three options, ranging from roads only, roads and some drainage work, to roads and all drainage work will be presented during informational open houses scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 10 and Dec. 12 at the village barn, 2 Lagoon Drive, and 10 a.m. to noon Dec. 15 at the village aquatic center, 94 Midlothian Road.

The estimated tax increase for a house valued at $500,000 would range from $650 per year to $1,099 per year for the options.

The sessions mark a milestone in a discussion that began three years ago by the village board's finance committee. Ideas have been discussed and refined, studies done, public meetings held and surveys sent in the past 18 months.

According to Kazenas, nearly 1,000 residents have participated in helping to develop a plan and to determine whether a tax hike request should be placed on the ballot.

"We wanted to have the most up to date information and consider the feedback of our residents," before an amount to be sought was set, she said. Visit www.vhw.org.

Village officials are focusing on road work and have changed the wording in presentations from "Infrastructure Improvement Plan" to "Hawthorn Woods Paves the Way" to make it easier to digest. Ninety percent of the village's 57 miles of roads urgently need resurfacing or reconstruction, according to the village. Costs will jump if not addressed now, according to information provided to residents.

An updated report shows the village would need an average $1.53 million annually for the next 15 years and $1.18 million per year thereafter to fix problems and keep streets in what is considered good condition.

That report also estimates another $2.7 million is needed to replace large diameter metal culverts that are failing, and in some cases collapsing the road over the culvert. That puts the total 15-year cost of the program at $25.7 million.

"I think our residents are very engaged in the process and respect the work that has been done to give them good information," Kazenas said.

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