Clarendon Hills continues road funds with special service areas
Workers pour concrete shoulders along the first block of Indian Drive Sept. 11 as part of Clarendon Hills road improvements funded with special service areas. | Chuck Fieldman—Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 21, 2012 9:38AM
CLARENDON HILLS — September road improvements being completed in portions of Clarendon Hills are being partially funded with special service areas, a process the village has been using since 1995.
Clarendon Hills started a five-year road improvement cycle in 1995 under which several roads in the village have been repaired and resurfaced with the use of special service areas.
The special service areas result in an increased property tax bill for residents in the area roads are improved. The increased tax is for 15 years and is $200-$225 a year for a home valued at $500,000, said Clarendon Hills Finance Director Peg Hartnett.
“As a nonhome-rule community, we don’t have a lot of options,” Hartnett said. “We wouldn’t be able to do the improvements we’ve done without the use of SSAs.”
Hartnett said funds from special service areas generally have been used to cover about half of the cost of road improvements; the village budgets include funds to pay the remainder of the bills.
As part of improvements over the past few years, concrete shoulders have been installed to take the place of gravel shoulders.
Village officials considered three options for shoulder areas: keep the existing gravel, use concrete shoulders or install curbs and gutters, said Peg Hartnett, finance director.
“There is a little more out-of-pocket costs with the concrete shoulders than just keeping the gravel shoulders, but the concrete shoulders should be in good shape for five additional years, so it pays off in the long run.” Hartnett said.
She said the cost for curbs and gutters is prohibitive.
The village maintains about 25 miles of roadway, which is evaluated on an ongoing basis. Officials focus on maintaining roads to avoid excessive deterioration and increased maintenance costs.
When special service areas are set up, effected residents have the opportunity to put a halt to the process via petition. Objection to a special service area by 51 percent each of property owners and registered voters is needed to halt its creation. That has not happened since the village started the program 17 years ago.
“The SSAs aren’t a perfect solution, but given that we’re not a home-rule community, it is a good tool to get the needed road improvements done,” Hartnett said.
Village President Tom Karaba has said the process has a built-in inequity.
“Roads improvements funded by special service areas are beneficial to all property owners who drive on those roads, not just those who are helping to pay the bill,” he said, noting those who live on state or county roads, such as 55th Street and Ogden Avenue, never have to pay into special service areas.