The first year that I was elected to the Brookfield Village Board was 1991, and I have been off and on that board ever since. It is for this reason that perhaps I have a longer-term perspective than most of the others involved in local politics.
I have struggled with street paving questions while I was on the board and watched as others did the same while I was off. For that entire time, the village has been “behind schedule” as far as repaving streets; which is to say, in any given year there might be three miles of street in need of repaving and money enough to pave one mile.
Next year, one more mile of street goes bad so the total need remains three miles but there is still but money for one mile. What to do?
The village board has put together a proposal to end “behind schedule” and instead to get “ahead of schedule” over the next five years. They proposed to borrow $22 million by selling bonds over the next five years. With that money they will repave all of the streets in the “behind schedule” category and the streets coming due for repair or replacement during this building phase.
There are several good reasons to do this now:
There are a lot of streets that need rebuilding now. There are other streets that can be repaired now, saving the cost of complete rebuilding in a few years.
Cheap money is available to borrow now. How cheap is it? Such bonds are normally repaid over 20 years; the village plans to repay these in 10 years. This is an opportunity that cannot last!
This referendum is not an authorization to increase taxes; it is an authorization to borrow a specific amount by issuing bonds. It will be a separate line item on your tax bill. When the bonds are paid off, the authorization ends and that line item will disappear.
The bond money cannot be diverted to some other purpose such as salaries, pay raises, pensions or pet projects. This is not just a “local” promise, it is a matter of state statute.
The village president, clerk, and trustees are a healthy mix of the newly elected and veterans. They are intelligent, honest, prudent and diligent. Our budget is balanced; expenditures are focused on basic services.
Our village Manager is a proven professional who has worked in the Brookfield village government for 10 years. The village’s engineers have worked in the village for 30 years and know our streets like the back of their hands from 26th Place to 47th Street. This team is prepared to handle a project of the size proposed in a frugal, professional manner.
I shall vote for the bond referendum on the March 15 primary ballot.
Ed. Note: C.P. Hall is a former Brookfield village trustee.