On March 15, the voters of the village of Brookfield will have the opportunity to decide on a referendum to establish an eight-year street improvement program for the village.
Having served as village manager for nearly 20 years and retiring in 2000, I am aware of the desires of your elected officials to establish and maintain a comprehensive street improvement program for well over the past 25 years.
While the village has been successful in obtaining grant funds for the rehabilitation of major streets, those types of grants could not be used on most of our residential streets because of state and federal restrictions.
Although my parents had moved to Brookfield in 1954, later retiring and moving to Mountain Home, Arkansas, I decided to remain a village resident after retiring.
I am well aware of the quality of services provided within our community not only by the village but by its school districts as well. We must keep Brookfield, a desirable place to live and raise a family, a stable investment.
However, a question often raised is: Why are so many of the streets in a problematic condition? The problem has been and is a lack of a steady source of revenues to maintain and improve our streets. The following is an example of providing essential services which divert resources from other needs of the village.
Brookfield provides full services, including 17 firefighters manning two stations and two fully equipped paramedic ambulances and 31 sworn police officers plus five auxiliary officers as well as 18 crossing guards.
The cost according to the 2014 tax levy for just these services was $9.1 million while real estate tax revenue was only $6.3 million, the maximum allowable by state law. For decades the village has had to use other income to subsidize public safety, revenues often used by other communities to maintain and improve their streets.
If we are to maintain our property values for our own future benefit, we must invest in the streets in our community. We are a community — people sharing resources and receiving services we could not provide individually. If just for self-interest we share in the responsibility in protecting the investments we made when we moved to Brookfield.
Finally, I will not receive any direct benefit from voting yes, as my street is not scheduled in the present plan. I view my vote as needed to maintain our community.
Jim Mann is the retired former village manager of Brookfield and who has more than 30 years of experience in city and county planning and municipal management and administration.