Riverside residents will be asked to approve a $2.5 million property tax referendum on the Nov. 4 ballot, with the money going to improve residential streets throughout the village.
Village trustees voted unanimously to place the question on the ballot, saying that the new funding would accelerate scheduled road improvement projects during the next three years.
While the village will be issuing new debt, taxpayers won’t see their tax bills increase due to the bond sale. That’s because the village this year is retiring debt it issued back in 2004 for the same purpose.
In 2004, Riverside voters overwhelmingly — 85 percent to 15 percent — approved a $2.06 million bond sale for road improvements. Riverside is seeking a $2.5 million bond issue this time around, because its bond rating is higher than it was in 2004 and can take advantage of lower interest rates.
“Because of the village’s excellent bond rating … we are able to leverage this to even a higher degree than we did 10 years ago,” said Trustee Joseph Ballerine.
In April, the village’s engineering firm delivered to the board a 10-year street survey, which outlined the condition of all village streets and set up a schedule for resurfacing them.
The report concluded that were Riverside to adhere to that improvement schedule it would need to earmark $820,000 annually. However, the village generally doesn’t have that kind of money available for road improvements.
The village’s only other direct sources of funding for street improvements are motor fuel taxes and the village’s 1-percent non-home rule sales tax. Those two sources of revenue bring in about $460,000 on an annual basis.
With an infusion of cash from the sale of bonds, Riverside can begin immediately to address residential streets. Since the bond proceeds must be spent within three years, the village will be able to improvement more streets in the next three years than even the 10-year plan calls for.
“Projects that might have been in year five or six would be moved up two or three years, so we would substantially accelerate the maintenance and [resurfacing] of the streets,” said Village President Ben Sells.
Village Manager Peter Scalera added that officials will also be identifying storm sewer improvement projects that can be coupled with road improvements. Any work related to the sewer improvements can be paid for with funds in the village’s water and sewer fund, which is funded by charges that show up on residents’ and business owners’ water bills.
“We can complete even more streets if we dovetail this with sewer improvement projects,” said Scalera.