With the 1% sales tax failing the whole Street Improvement Plan for 2006 had to be revamped. Basically the money the city thought they would get has been cut in half. The red and blue marks that city aldermen got to see are not good. The red lines signify projects that are out and the blue means the money has been re-allocated or greatly reduced. Normally the city has close to $14 million to play with, money that often paves the way to new developments or at least a smoother ride. But this time around, the public works department has $4.4 million which is all money generated from the motor fuel tax.
Bill Bittner, Director of Public Works says, "If this becomes the rule rather than the exception the city will have to re-group as to how to fund public works programs. Obviously if we are not going to spend additional dollars for capital outlay we'll have to find money."
All phase of the Harrison Avenue reconstruction project are a go. The city needed to come up with enough money to match federal and state funds. Bids should go out to improve Harrison between Mulford Road and Ohio Parkway this summer and construction should start in the fall.
Bittner says, “We have money allocated on a yearly basis and to do that project but it will take close to 7 to 8 years. We've got a couple of those years in already but 2nd phase is several years out."
Kishwaukee, Harrison Avenue and Morgan Street bridge projects will be completed but will not be done for many years. Residential road improvements are out so the only residential street maintenance improvements we’ll see is concrete patching.
Bittner tells 23 News, "By not doing capital investments you aren't making the expense go away. You are just pushing it back. An argument can be made that when you delay the rebuilding is more expensive in the future."
Ultimately the city council will decide whether or not to support the amended capital improvement plan. The plan did not pass out of committee so it will still be a few weeks before the full city council gets to vote.