Brookfield weighs options for 2006 street repair program

Bond issue, debt refinancing most likely funding solution

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By BOB UPHUES

Brookfield village officials have for the most part identified the streets they'd like to see resurfaced during 2006. Now they just need to find the $3.3 million estimated to make the project a reality.

Village Engineer Derek Treichel appeared before the village board Sept. 26, with a plan that would address several streets north of Ogden Avenue. The streets included in the 2006 Street Improvement Program were originally slated for resurfacing in 2005. The village, however, had only enough money for about one-third of the total improvements scheduled for 2005.

Among the streets included in the 2006 plan are:

n Lincoln Avenue from Kemman to Madison

n Sunnyside Avenue from Grand to Washington

n Elm, Park, Oak, Sunnyside and Forest avenues from Ogden to Burlington

n Windemere and Southview avenues from Prairie to Grove

The improvements would consists of replacing the curb and gutter; widening each street (except for Windemere, Southview and Lincoln avenues) by 1.5 feet; replacing a portion of the driveway aprons and parkway sidewalks; installing handicapped-accessible ramps at all intersections and alleys; repairing deteriorated sections of the sewer and drainage structures; resurfacing streets with asphalt and restoring parkways with sod.

The cost for the 17-block project is sizeable. Including design engineering, the project is expected to cost $3.35 million. About $2.7 million of that number is the road construction itself. Another $265,000 would go toward water and sewer improvements.

Treichel suggested to trustees that if they approved authorizing design engineering for the project in October, the village could solicit bids from contractors in February 2006 and begin construction in April.

Village President Michael Garvey said that while the village could pay the $178,000 expenditure for design engineering during the 2005-06 fiscal year, there was no plan yet in place for paying construction costs in the 2006-07 fiscal year, which begins May 1, 2006.

"Let's face it ... we're going to have to find money in the budget to do residential side streets," Garvey said. "Staff is working on options to pay for construction."

The options are limited.

The village can pay for the water and sewer improvements (both engineering and construction costs) out of its water/sewer fund, which has a sizeable cash balance. That takes care of approximately 10 percent of the total bill.

Motor fuel tax funds can also be used to fund road improvements, but the balance in that fund as of May 1, 2006 is projected to be just under $600,000.

That leaves only a few options for financing: a voter-approved tax hike, restructuring current debt to free up money for capital improvements or issuing more debt.

Of those three, the first option is unlikely given the fact that Brookfield voters approved a tax hike to fund public safety initiatives in 2002, approved a library tax hike and have been bombarded by school district referendums in recent years with a promise of more to come in the near future.

That leaves issuing more debt and restructuring existing debt as the most practical solution.

"It's naive to think that we wouldn't be looking at going out for bonds or restructuring our debt," said Village Manager Riccardo Ginex. "Of course that's going to be on the table."

Ginex said that even if the village issues $1 million in bonds, the annual debt service would be anywhere from $95,000 to $100,000 per year. That would be in addition to the village's current debt service, which is expected to be in the $1.3 million range for fiscal year 2005-06.

"We have a substantial debt service amount out there now," Ginex said. "That's a pretty big payment every year."

What the village board may end up doing is authorizing the design engineering work now and then authorize completing just a portion of the proposed 2006 street plan next summer.

"If we only do five, six, seven, eight blocks then that's what we have to do," Ginex said. "The main thing is to get the design done ... so the streets can be done in the summer."

In addition to whatever residential side streets are resurfaced next year, the village will move forward with a reconstruction of Prairie Avenue from 31st Street to Washington Avenue, which will be funded in part by federal money. The village will contribute motor fuel tax money as well as money from its water and sewer fund to complete those improvements.

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