Montgomery ponders ways to fund needed road improvements
By Judy Pochel For Sun-Times Media February 16, 2014 5:14PM
Updated: March 18, 2014 6:12AM
Trustees in the village of Montgomery have their homework cut out for them as they begin to contemplate increased taxes or even changing the village to home rule as a way to keep up with needed capital improvements.
The discussions began after hearing from Village Engineer Pete Wallers that road infrastructure projects are underfunded.
“Over the last 10 years, the village averaged roughly $650,000 per year in road maintenance. On average, the village is able to rehabilitate approximately 5,500 feet of roadway or 1.4 percent of the road system,” Wallers said.
The village analysis of roadway maintenance shows at present levels, the village is operating on a 71-year cycle, meaning it takes decades before residential roadways are completely reconstructed.
“If the village was to target a nominal 25-year cycle or 4 percent for resurfacing streets, the cost would be $1.8 million annually. In either case it appears that there is a funding shortfall and more funding is needed to adequately maintain the village streets,” Wallers said.
Some options discussed by trustees included a sales tax or working toward home rule.
“As a board I think we are faced with a unique challenge,” said Trustee Steve Jungermann. “The west side is still relatively new but we see that we are underfunded with capital improvements.”
“If this board doesn’t increase money for roads, in 15 years when half of village roads are up for reconsideration, it would take three times the money,” said Mayor Matt Brolley.
Wallers indicated maintenance of existing roadways would alleviate the need for such drastic action and said if the village were to wait some 15 years it would take a bond issue to pay for the project.
“This is the harshest place for roads. With temperatures and snow, in the spring I think we will see some horrible road conditions,” Wallers commented.
“The only way we can get extra money and not have just Montgomery pay for it is in sales tax. People come into Montgomery and shop,” said Trustee Denny Lee.
“This is important. All the roads on the west side in 15 years will be coming up for replacement. We have to take action,” said Trustee Stan Bond.
Trustees also questioned how long tax rebates would be paid back to some of the new large stores that have opened in the area. Many have deals with the village for several more years. The tax rebate agreement reached with Wal-Mart ends in January 2027; JC Penney, July 2022; Remainder of Ogden Hill September 2022 and the new Sam’s Club scheduled to open later this year has an agreement with the village until August 2028.
“The crux of this discussion is how to fix our grossly underfunded capital improvements projects. One of the core functions is to find out what to do about this. It is our job to find out how to do this, sales tax, home rule, and vehicle sticker. Non home rule is asking our residents to pay a bit more but anyone who came into Montgomery would have to pay,” said Brolley.