With extreme rain events, and the basement flooding that comes with them, becoming more frequent, Riverside trustees are exploring raising its bimonthly water/sewer infrastructure fee incrementally over the next several years while issuing up to $11 million in bonds to fund a major water main replacement and storm sewer separation project to be competed over the next decade.
The plan also includes replacing all water meters in the village, a roughly $1 million project the village hopes to complete between 2021 and 2023.
The bond issue would not need voter approval via referendum since they would be alternate revenue bonds, funded through fees paid by Riverside water customers on their bimonthly bills.
Officials have laid out a plan where there would be two bond issues, one in 2025 for $5 million and one for $6 million in 2031, both of which would retire 10 years from the date of issuance.
However, the existing $30 bimonthly water/sewer infrastructure fee paid by water customers that has helped fund past projects, like the First Division storm sewer separation, won’t be enough to pay the entire debt service for the work trustees would like to see completed over the next decade.
At their meeting on July 15, Riverside trustees voiced support for a more aggressive approach that would result in that $30 bimonthly infrastructure fee increasing over time, eventually to around $45 by 2031, when the second round of bonds are issued.
“I favor the incremental approach [to raising the infrastructure fee],” said Trustee Aberdeen Marsh-Ozga. “I definitely feel that if we’re going to address some of our residents’ concerns about their flooding that the prioritization of these projects is important.”
Along with increasing regular water and sewer fees on a regular basis to account for increases passed along to the village by their water supplier, the village of McCook, officials can include two other water main replacement projects and a major storm sewer separation project along Longcommon Road, which were not included in an alternate plan that would have resulted in just the $5 million bond issue in 2025 and no increase in the infrastructure fee.
Part of the Longcommon Road storm sewer separation project would include the construction of a storm water detention vault that would temporarily store runoff and slowly release it into the sewer main to take pressure off the system during major rain events.
In a comprehensive study of the village’s sewer system in 2014, the plan called for that vault to be located under the Longcommon/Downing/Evelyn triangle. However, the village could opt to construct a larger vault, if trustees chose, under Big Ball Park, which would result in that park being taken offline for recreation programming for a year.
“I think the feedback I’ve gotten is ‘do something about the flooding,’” Trustee Edward Hannon said. “If they have to take Big Ball Park out for a year to create this vault to alleviate that problem on a permanent basis, I think a lot of people would understand why Little League got moved to a different field.”
A timeline provided to trustees at their July 15 meeting indicated that the largest phases of construction would come in 2025 and 2030, with smaller projects in 2023, 2026, 2028 and 2031.
The reason for waiting until 2025 to begin the first major project – a $5.8 million plan – is because the village would like to keep debt service levels roughly where they are now, according to Finance Director Karin Johns.
Village President Joseph Ballerine also suggested the village work on drafting and passing an ordinance requiring downspouts to be disconnected from emptying into the combined sewer system and encouraging homeowners to initiate their own storm water detention projects, like replacing impervious surfaces with permeable ones and so on.
He suggested that perhaps the village could waive permit fees for such projects.
“I think we should be encouraging people to do that,” Ballerine said. “So that’s something we need to discuss at a later date.”