Newest Elgin special assessment improvements to start this summer
By Mike Danahey email@example.com May 21, 2012 9:18PM
Updated: July 2, 2012 8:05AM
ELGIN — City officials said Monday that a long-awaited public works project using special assessment financing should finally get under way this summer.
The streets involved in this project — labeled Special Assessment Area V — include Willard Avenue between Chicago Street and Villa Street, Illinois Avenue between Bent Street and May Street, Van Nostrand Place between Liberty Street and Illinois Avenue, and Erie Street between Edison Avenue and South Street. Work will include replacing street pavement, sidewalks, curbs and gutters and storm sewers,
Total cost of the improvements is $4.9 million, with the bulk of the funding coming from the city’s take of Grand Victoria casino money.
The city council Wednesday is set to move along naming city engineer Joe Evers as commissioner of a board of local improvements to certify an amended tax assessment role for this zone. If things go as planned, that role would be filed with the Circuit Court of Kane County within the next few weeks, Assistant City Manager Rick Kozal said Monday.
With a special assessment area, property owners pay a portion the bill for the work, with the city picking up the rest of the tab, the idea being that the improvements will increase property values.
In the wake of the recession, several property owners in Special Assessment Area V felt the fair market value of their properties would not increase in the amount they were originally being asked to pay two years ago for the capital improvements.
Staff research confirmed this, as well as that the city probably would pay a high premium for issuing its special assessment bonds, in part because of the potential for a high default rate, and that there would be no market for such bonds, Elgin Chief Financial Officer Colleen Lavery explained.
And with the post-recession economy, both Kozal and Lavery noted it is much less likely that any further special assessment-style financing will be used for any potential capital projects.
So Lavery came up with a plan to use money that for 35 years has been sitting in an account for the downtown Fountain Square Special Assessment project, that has grown to about $710,000. An additional public benefit escrow account for special assessment areas with a balance of $5,000 also was identified.
Using this money will reduce assessments in Area V, making them more affordable to the 98 or so impacted home and business property owners.
For instance, the work along Erie was going to cost property owners there $203,475. Under the new plan, that will be $66,386, with the city footing $1,017,750 of the $1,084,135 bill.
Area V is an example of what has been referred to as a “county clerk subdivision” — sections that at one time were unincorporated areas that have had municipalities build up around them. The last special assessment improvement project in Elgin took place about 10 years ago and involved streets around Gifford Elementary School on the city’s west side.