2016 Roadway Referendum

The Following Question Will Be on the November 8 Ballot

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Referendum for a $12 Million Roadway Bond Issue

In 2005, the Village Board set forth several goals, one of which was a long range financial plan. A key component of that plan was the revision and funding of the roadway capital improvement plan (CIP).

From 2005 through 2008, the Village undertook an extensive review of its capital improvement planning process. From that process, the Village developed a new roadway review and scheduling mechanism to accurately rate and schedule future roadway projects. The Public Works and Water Committee determined that in order to maintain and improve roads, the Village needs approximately $1 - 1.4 million per year. The Village’s Finance Committee and Public Works and Water Committee discussed many options for funding future road repairs.

Due to limitations of the tax cap, the Committees recommended to fund the CIP through a referendum. In 2016, the Village Board voted to place a $12 million referendum on the November ballot. This issue of the Tower Topics will provide the voters with information about the referendum and allow them to make an informed decision on whether to accept or reject the proposal to issue

Current Financial Situation

The Village of Western Springs is an organization with a $23 million annual budget. Of that total budget, $4.6 Million is in enterprise funds which includes water, sewer, and the Burlington Northern funds. Money in those funds must be used for capital or operating expenditures within those operations. An additional $6.1 million dollars accounts for specific purposes such as the Recreation Department and other grant related projects. After removing these, the Village is left with a core organizational budget of approximately $12.3 million. The funding sources for this core budget consist of the General Fund, the Motor Fuel Tax (MFT) Fund, and the property tax supported portion of the Capital Improvement Fund. These funds support general operations such as police, fire and emergency, community development, public works, finance, and administration on an annual basis. These funds also support minor and ongoing capital expenses such as building maintenance, equipment, squad cars, light trucks, etc.

Surpluses from the Village’s general fund (non-capital) over the past decade have been slowly recovering, following the economic downtown of 2008. Property tax increases have been capped the consumer price index (CPI) established by the Illinois Department of Revenue. The annual growth rate of the CPI since 2012 has been on average 1.2% per year; below the 5% annual growth rate allowed by the Public Act 89-1.

This growth rate is not expected to be able to support the $1-1.4 million needed annually for the road improvement program.

What Does Your Dollar Pay for?

There is never an ideal time to increase taxes; however, the timing of this referendum question allows residents to make a decision while the issue of property taxes is current. The chart below graphically depicts what your tax dollar pays for. Only a $0.12 of every $1.00 is received by the Village. The majority of that $0.12 goes towards services such as Police, Fire , and Public Works.
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How the Village Rates Streets: the Modified Pavement Condition Index

Every year, the Municipal Services Department performs a roadway survey on each street in Western Springs. The survey includes a visual inspection of the roadway surface and recorded numerical ratings for various types of pavement failures, which are stored in the roadway maintenance database. These failures include various types of cracking, potholes, drainage issues, and overall rideability. These values are summed and a Modified Pavement Condition Index (MPCI) rating is placed on each road. The Village currently utilizes a modified version of the standard PCI rating system used by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). The MPCI rating allows staff to determine which roadways are in the worst physical condition in that particular year.

The updated MPCI ratings list for all of the streets in town is made available on the Village website during the Fall of each year at the completion of the construction season.

A detailed description of the process and the current list and ranking of street conditions is available in the 2016 MPCI Report.

Pavement Life Cycle

The life cycle for each roadway segment in the Village is different because it is based upon the surface material, base material, and traffic volume of each road. Since most defects in a pavement first appear on the surface, experts focus on the surface material when conducting evaluations. The two classifications for roadway type within the Village are concrete and asphalt. Concrete streets have a much lower overall maintenance cost and last substantially longer than asphalt streets. The lifetime cost for concrete streets is less expensive than asphalt streets; however, there is a higher upfront cost associated with the construction of a concrete street. The major advantage to an asphalt street over a concrete street is the lower initial construction costs. The chart to the right graphically depicts the asphalt life cycle. The impact of deferring maintenance even a few years can increase costs as much as 400% of the original cost.

Eventually a roadway will reach the end of its lifecycle and need to be completely reconstructed. Several of the Village’s streets are at or nearing that status. The Village has established a policy of only reconstructing roads in concrete (Infrastructure Commission Recommendation 03-01). This has proven to be cost effective, as it reduces the expense of continually maintaining and rehabilitating asphalt roadways.

Types of Maintenance

The Village conducts three general types of maintenance on street segments depending upon the age, quality, and type of street.


Reconstruction requires the removal and complete replacement of the roadway and base surface. The Village only reconstructs in concrete. Reconstruction projects also account for overland drainage improvements and will modify the profile of the street.


A grind and resurface consists of removal of the top layer of asphalt (2-4 inches) and replacement with new asphalt. The roadway base is not removed in this maintenance step. This work does not change the profile of the street or improve storm water drainage and may include only spot repairs to the curb line. Storm water drainage improvements are typically not feasible.

Concrete Rehabilitation:

Used only in Forest Hills at this time, includes an evaluation and replacement of individual 10’x 10’ panels of concrete as needed.

Types of Maintenance

Type Curb Replacement
Removal Cost/Sq. Ft.
Life Expectancy
Reconstruction Complete 8"-12" Pavement & Base
$15.00 50-75 years
Resurface Possible 2"-4" Surface
$6.15 10-25 years
Concrete Rehab
Possible 10'x 10' Panels
$8.80 50-75 years

Review of the 2008 Referendum

The Village passed a referendum in 2008 for the purpose of securing funds for the completion of roadway projects. $6.5 million was secured to be spent over a ten-year period with an additional $350,000 annually to be supplemented by Motor Fuel Tax Funds to create an annual roadway program of approximately $1 million annually. Due to the economic downturn in 2008, the revenue that the Village received annually from MFT funds decreased dramatically while construction costs continued to increase. The Village completed the expenditure of the 2008 referendum funds at the end of 2014 with a total of $7,879,236.61 in project costs. Staff originally requested that the roadway referendum in 2008 be for $10 million to allow for a roadway program to extend the full 10 years.

The MPCI system forecast that 76 blocks in the Village would undergo a type of roadway maintenance between the years of 2009 and 2014. The actual number of blocks maintained was 94 segments. Seventy-three blocks (77.7%) were projects that were projected to occur between 2009 and 2014. The additional 23 blocks were scheduled based upon their condition rating set by the MPCI system and the Village’s annual inventory review. In all cases, these 23 additional segments were scheduled for maintenance within two years of their accelerated deterioration and the majority were in proximity to scheduled projects. The maps below compare the projected roadway projects prior to 2008 with projects actually completed between 2008 and 2014.
Planned Projects.jpg
Actual Completed Projects

The 2016 Roadway Referendum

How Would These Funds Be Used?

The Village would utilize these funds in the same manner as the 2008 referendum. Roadway construction projects would focus on concrete, asphalt resurfacing, and concrete rehabilitation.

How Much Should the Referendum Be?

The Village is currently utilizing a $3 million bond to bridge the gap between the depletion of the 2008 roadway referendum and the potential 2016 roadway referendum.

The current roadway program has been a combination of asphalt resurfacing and concrete patching maintenance to allow for some maintenance to concrete roadways in the Village. In 2015, the Village asphalt resurfaced 12 roadway segments (1.67 miles), and rehabilitated 1 segment (0.25 miles) of concrete street. A budget of $1 million a year allows the Village to reconstruct 2-3 blocks, or approximately 0.25 miles in concrete or resurface 10-12 blocks, or 1.0-1.5 miles in asphalt. The Village is comprised of 52 miles of roadway.

If the Village allots an annual construction budget of $1 million/year with these bonds, this budget would remain constant from 2018 to 2028. As you can see from the attached table to the right, current projections for maintenance would exceed $1 million annually. Large sections of the community are currently coming due for reconstruction projects based upon their current MPCI rating and maintenance history. A $1 million annual program would be sufficient for an annual reconstruction or resurfacing program, but due to the current condition as noted from reviews, there are a number of segments scheduled for resurfacing within the community that would be delayed to further years. It is likely that some of these resurfacing projects will become reconstruction projects if delayed for too long.
It is important to note that reconstruction plans for any section of street also must take into account other factors, such as sewer and water main repair and replacement work. Several sections in town such as Clausen Avenue in Field Park and Grove Avenue in Old Town North currently have 4” water main and are due for replacement. Any reconstruction on these segments would necessitate the replacement of the water main. It is recommended by staff that any reconstruction project also assesses the condition and needs of water, storm and sanitary sewers as a part of the project. Those additional costs are not factored into the cost projections outlined below.
10 year cost estimates

Frequently Asked Questions

How Will the Bond Money Be Used?

If this referendum passes, it authorizes the Village to issue bonds in the amount identified by the Village Board for use in roadway rehabilitation projects. The Finance Committee has recommended to structure the referendum into three separate bonds to be issued over 8 years. Structuring bonds in this way enables the Village to gauge market factors and reduce interest costs by issuing the bonds over time.

What Improvements Will Be Made on My Street?

Due to various environmental factors, the Village cannot provide a specific timeline when maintenance may occur on any section of roadway. The Village schedules its maintenance programs by targeting the highest MPCI rated streets from an annual review process. Residents can find the current street rankings and MPCI ratings at 2016 MPCI Report

How Much Will This Cost Me?

This question can be complex since the Village would like to issue the bonds in three installments over 8 years to match the issuance with the construction schedule and therefore reduce interest expense. To simplify the answer, the table below assumes all $12 million bond is issued at one time for a 17 year term.

How Much it Could Cost

Tax Bill
Tax Increase
$5,000 $157
$8,000 $252
$10,000 $315

What if the Referendum Does Not Pass?

If the referendum does not pass the Village will continue to maintain streets, but will forgo major construction projects. Unfortunately, the Village has a finite amount of resources. The Village receives approximately $350,000 annually from motor fuel taxes, which is typically the funding mechanism for roadway improvement projects.

Long term resurfacing and reconstruction improvements, including underground improvements such as water and sewer projects may not be feasible.

Why Not Use Funding From Another Source?

The Village provides a wide array of programs and services to the residents which utilizes all revenues received. Taking revenue from another area would require a reduction in some other municipal service. Though the Village always evaluates service levels to maintain a balanced budget, reducing services alone would not generate the required capital for a roadway program. These referendum bond funds would be dedicated to infrastructure improvements and could not be used to provide other services.

Can Referendum Funds Be Used for Water or Sewer Improvements?

No, the roadway referendum will only be dedicated for roadway improvements within the Village. The roadway, water, and sewer funds are completely separated. The roadway fund relies solely on Motor Fuel Tax (MFT) and referendum funds. The water and sewer funds are referred to as enterprise funds as they are both generated by the combined water/sewer bills that each resident and business pays. There can be no transfer of funds from roadway to water or sewer.

What About Money Spent on Other High Profile Projects?

The Village has spent or committed significant dollars to other high profile projects such as the East Train Platforms and downtown rehabilitation. Combined, these projects total several million dollars. All of those projects will be constructed with state or federal grant funds with the Village providing a 20-30% to the construction process through matching funds.

Does This Referendum Allow the Village to Continually Issue Roadway Bonds?

The referendum question is a one-time authorization for the issuance of up to $12 million in bonds. The Village would need to pass another referendum to issue additional bonds.

Why Can't We Get More Grant Funds?

The Village regularly submits for grants and successfully received funds for the rehabilitation of Hillgrove, Burlington, and Gilbert Avenues. Those streets are considered arterial streets that move both residential and commercial traffic through the community. State and federal grants typically are only available for streets which can provide an economic benefit to the surrounding area. Residential streets have too low of traffic volume to be eligible for grant funds.

Where Can I Get More Information on the Referendum & the Village Streets?

General information regarding the Village’s roads can be found at www.wsprings.com/roads.