Riverside residents will see an uptick in residential road construction in the next few years after voters overwhelmingly approved a $2.5 million bond issue for street improvements and maintenance on Nov. 4.
With all nine village precincts reporting, the referendum passed by a 77 percent to 23 percent margin (2,636 votes in favor compared to 789 votes against), according to unofficial results posted by the Cook County Clerk.
Interim Village Manager Jessica Frances said officials will be working quickly to prepare a resolution for the village board to announce its intent to sell bonds. The board will vote on the resolution within the next month, and the bond sale is slated to take place Dec. 18 after vote totals are certified.
The village wants to get the bond sale completed soon, so that it will be part of the first installment tax bills sent out in 2015.
Because the new debt is replacing debt the village took on in 2004, taxpayers shouldn’t see the village’s portion of property taxes rise because of the new debt.
However, at the end of the year, the village likely will seek to increase its tax levy by the rate of the consumer price index or 5 percent, whichever is lower. Because Riverside is a non-home rule community, it must abide by state tax cap laws. The CPI for 2014 tax levy purposes is 1.5 percent.
Per state law, as soon as the bonds are issued, the village will have three years to spend the money. That means there will be a burst of street construction through 2017 or 2018. The bond proceeds will also allow the village to stockpile motor fuel tax and local sales tax revenues in order to continue with the street improvement program after 2018.
Public Works Director Edward Bailey said that staff has not met with the village’s engineering firm or consulted with the village board yet on which streets will be targeted for improvement in 2015.
However, the village earlier this year completed a survey that rated the condition of residential streets throughout the village. That survey will guide decisions on which streets get attention first.
“We don’t have an official list of streets yet, but we do have the street condition report, so I’d think we would draw heavily from that,” Bailey said. “It’s all about fixing the worst streets.”
Information about the 2015 street improvement program should start trickling out during the winter months, said Bailey.
“It isn’t that complicated,” Bailey said. “We’re in a good starting position.”
The village may also choose to do sewer improvements at the same time. In addition to the street condition report, the village recently had its engineering firm study sewer improvements to help mitigate basement and residential property flooding during heavy rain events.
The village can use money in its separate water and sewer fund to pay for sewer improvements while using bond proceeds to fix the streets.
“Part of what will dictate how fast we go is our capacity to initiate and manage those projects,” said Bailey.
In addition to residential street improvements, Riverside will undertake a major face-lift on East Burlington Street in the downtown area. That project is largely being funded by a state grant.
After four or five years, residents can expect the pace of residential street improvement to slow as the village repays the $2.5 million debt, which will expire in 2024. At that time, the village may again decide to seek another bond issue to restart the process.