On Nov. 3, Westchester Voters To Consider $42M Referendum For Infrastructure Improvements

Sunday, October 4, 2020 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

During the Nov. 3 presidential election, voters in Westchester will be deciding on more than candidates. They’ll also be asked to approve a referendum that would generate up to $42 million in bonds to fund long overdue infrastructure improvements in the village.

“The infrastructure and streets of the village are in need of some work,” said Westchester Village Manager Paul Nosek during a telephone town hall about the upcoming referendum held Sept. 22. Nosek said the total cost of projects actually turns out to be closer to an estimated $44 million, when inflation is factored into the cost estimate.

“We’ve put together a comprehensive long-term plan, so we can get to a maintenance schedule that is possible given our current funding levels,” Nosek said. “This bond issue addresses three major concerns of our residents: the streets; the water mains, sanitary lines and residential flood mitigation; and the alleys.”

Nosek said that if residents approve the referendum — possibly the largest in the village’s history — the village will be able to help seal 21 miles of the village’s 51 miles of sanitary water system lines that will keep rainwater from backing into residential homes and prevent the pooling of stormwater on the street after heavy rains.

The money will also allow the village to update its water mains, which Nosek said are close to 100 years old and subject to frequent breaks. He said roughly 50 percent of the referendum funds will be spent on water system improvements.

Around 40 percent of the funding will go toward paving the village’s streets, bringing them up to a condition that’s “good or very good,” Nosek said.

Currently, according to village officials, roughly one-third of Westchester’s roads are in poor condition. In five years, without comprehensive improvements, roughly half of the village’s roads will be in poor or very poor condition, officials said.

Roughly 10 percent of the bond referendum will go toward repairing and replacing alleys, he said.

Tom Reedy, a director with Stifel Financial Corp., the brokerage and investment banking firm that will be helping the village issue the bonds if the referendum is approved, said that this is the largest bond issuance in the village’s recent history.

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“The village has three bond issues that are outstanding that have been issued in the last 10 years or so, but given the village’s non-home rule status and debt limitations for statutory restrictions, the village doesn’t have this large of a bond issue outstanding at this point,” he said.

Reedy added that the referendum’s passage would authorize the village to issue bonds over five years and they’ll be paid off over 20 years — from 2021 through 2044.

From 2021 to 2025, the cost of the bonds on the average taxpayer is estimated to range between $191 a year for the owner of a home valued at $200,000, $231 a year for the owner of a home valued at $235,000 and $248 a year for the owner of a $250,000 home.

That annual tax impact will decrease by $2 for homeowners between 2026 and 2044, Reedy explained in a presentation he presented during the Sept. 22 town hall.

Reedy said that now is a good time to issue bonds due to “historically low interest rates,” which reduce the cost of borrowing and, by extension, lessens the taxpayer burden.

Nosek said that the $42 million bond issue “is approximately $10 million worth of projects each year for five years straight.” Once the village completes those improvement projects, Nosek said, maintenance of the town’s infrastructure will be paid for by sales taxes and motor fuel taxes.

The village has created a special landing page on its website dedicated to the referendum that you can access by going to westchester-il.org/456/2020-Referendum-Information. There, you can watch the video of the town hall, view an interactive presentation and type in your address to view when and where roadwork will be completed.

If you have any more questions about the referendum, you can email: [email protected].

If you’d like to share your thoughts about the upcoming referendum with Village Free Press (on- or off-record), email us at: [email protected] or call (708) 316-8147.

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