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Earlier start for Oswego street resurfacing? : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Earlier start for Oswego street resurfacing?
Board backs plan to expedite program; extra funding source to be determined

by John Etheredge


The Village of Oswego will seek contractor bids for the village's annual street maintenance program a little earlier this year, as a result of a decision reached by the village board last week.

The village has traditionally waited until after the start of its new fiscal year May 1 to finalize engineering plans and seek contractor bids through the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) for its street maintenance program.

The village has usually advertised for contractor bids in late spring or early summer, awarded a contract in August and construction has taken place in late August and September.

But Village Administrator Steve Jones suggested that by seeking bids earlier this year than in prior years the village may be able to "save a percent or two on the cost" of its maintenance program while expediting the resurfacing work.

Jones also noted that he expects many other municipalities will be seeking to accelerate their street maintenance programs this year due to damage resulting from this winter's severe weather.

Jones added that Jennifer Hughes, the village's director of public works, supports the idea of seeking the contractor bids this spring.

"We think we will get some better numbers if we go (out to bid) now," he said.

In a memo to the board, Jones further explained, "We feel it is prudent to get a head start in the marketplace to get the best unit costs for our program. At the present time, our engineering is virtually finished..."

Jones noted that at the request of the board Collins Road has been added to the list of streets to be resurfaced this year. At recent meetings, board members have commented on the poor condition of the road.

Until this year, the village has traditionally used state-reimbursed Motor Fuel Tax (MFT) funds to finance its street maintenance program. However, Jones noted that this year's program is unique in that the village is proposing to use MFT funds and additional revenues from an as yet-to-be-determined new funding source.

Jones told the board that Mark Horton, the village's finance director, has recommended the village will need an additional $1.2 million annually in new revenues to cover the cost for the street maintenance program over the next decade.

At meetings over the past few months board members have reviewed some options for increasing the village's revenues to provide the additional funding. Among the options are an increase in the village's Home Rule sales tax and the imposition of a local gas tax.

Jones noted that a quarter of a cent increase in the village's sales tax would generate approximately $900,000 in new revenues, while a half cent increase would generate approximately $1.8 million.

Jones suggested the board can decide on a funding source prior to the adoption of the budget next month.

Village president:
more revenue required

When questioned by board members, Village President Brian LeClercq confirmed by agreeing to allow village staff to seek the bids earlier they were committing to an expanded street maintenance program this year which will require additional revenues.

Board members voiced differing opinions, but a majority agreed to allow village staff to seek the bids earlier.

Board members Gail Johnson and Judy Sollinger voiced support.

Board member Tony Giles said he was pleased village staff was proposing to resurface village streets earlier this year.

"I think it's a great idea so we can enjoy the roads all summer," he said.

However, Giles said he remains concerned about the village resurfacing streets that may not yet need it.

Board member Scott Volpe, however, said he was "concerned with moving forward and saying 'Yes', to the request without further information on what other capital costs the village will be facing.

He said he hesitates to commit a significant amount of village revenue to the street maintenance program only to find out later the village will require more than the $1.2 million funding now needed annually for the streets.

Board member Terry Michels said he believes "it's a great concept" for the village to seek bids and have streets resurfaced earlier this year, but expressed concerned "we are ahead of the game."

Michels explained he has yet to see a list of the streets proposed for resurfacing this year.

"I don't know what the scope of the vision is yet," Michels said, adding, "When we talk about funding, let's make sure we get our list together and we come back one time to ask the board how are we going to fund it and not multiple times."

Board member Pam Parr voiced support for seeking the bids early, but added, "At what point do we talk about funding and choices? Terry (Michels) makes a good point."

Responding to Michels' and Parr's comments, Jones said village staff and the board will soon discuss funding options along with the list of streets targeted for resurfacing.

The board is expected to discuss its funding options during meeting over the next few weeks. The village's new fiscal year will begin on May 1.

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