Indian Head Park residents received a prized report Sept. 12, a detailed assessment of the condition of the village’s infrastructure and estimated costs to repair it.
Residents have said one of the reasons they rejected village officials’ previous attempts to raise taxes via referendums, was they did not trust how the money would be spent.
At the urging of Village Board members newly elected in April, the village staff compiled color-coded lists and maps of the streets most in need of repairs, a map showing where water main breaks occurred going back more than 30 years, and a capital improvement plan with estimated costs for each project and the general timeframe to do the work.
“This is a great start,” resident Lou Mini said. “You have to have a plan.”
Infrastructure maintenance recommended in the short term is estimated to cost $3.7 million.
“It’s nice to have a list, but how are we going to pay for it,” said Trustee Brian Bailey.
Two possible ways would be to issue bonds to raise the money specifically for street maintenance and pay the bonds off with additional property taxes, or a general fund tax increase to raise money for a wider variety of village needs, Mayor Richard Andrews said. In either case, the residents would have to approve a referendum for a tax hike, something recent history shows voters are not willing to do.
While the new reports provide useful information about the state of the village infrastructure, Bailey said his concern is that people whose streets are not prioritized for repair will not want to pay more taxes.
“Good streets that are not my streets are still good for everybody in town,” Bailey said.
Mini said he does not need convincing.
“I would pay more property taxes or pay more for a vehicle sticker if I knew it would lead to better infrastructure,” Mini said.
But he knows from how soundly previous tax referendums were defeated, the trick will be getting the majority of residents on board.
Alan Stomberski, for one, will be a hard sell. He lives in the Flagg Creek condominiums, where as in other town house or condominium developments, a homeowners association pays for maintenance of their streets.
“There are a lot of them where you have to take care of your own roads,” Stomberski said. “They are not village streets.”
Other residents were eager for the work to proceed.
Chris Trifilio said interest rates eventually are going to spike up and it would cost the village more to borrow money.
If the village is going to fund $3.7 million of work, every percentage point increase in the rate would cost the village an additional $37,000 in annual interest, Trifilio said.
Anderson pointed out that was one reason why he has been trying to get a referendum passed while the rates were at historic lows. But that’s in the past, he noted.
Trustees Amy Jo Wittenberg and Brenda O’Laughlin said the village will take a collaborative approach to deciding what projects to tackle, when and what the funding source should be.
The village will hold a community meeting at a date to be determined to get residents’ feedback on the infrastructure reports. Village Administrator Frank Alonzo said the summary he presented will be posted on the village website, www.indianheadpark-il.gov.