Spring Grove considers expanding water system

SPRING GROVE – The price tag to hook the business district up to village water has some Spring Grove officials wondering whether phasing it in would be the better option.

The $1.8 million proposal – as laid out for the village president and trustees at the village's Finance Committee meeting Tuesday evening – would run water lines where the village currently has sewer.

No decisions have been made on how the project would be funded, but the committee did decide to get solid numbers on what it would cost to install the system in one go and piecemeal.

The village has applied for a low-interest Illinois Environmental Protection Agency loan for the total price, $1.37 million of which would go toward materials and labor and about $500,000 to engineering.

The system would bring in $66,000 a year if no new businesses moved in, enough to cover the loan if it comes through, said Trustee Mike Lee, who as the Economic Development Commission chairman has led the process of putting together the proposal.

If the loan doesn't come through, the village has enough in the bank to fund the project, and the reserves would be paid back using connection fees and the system's added annual revenue.

How that cost would be split between the village and businesses remains up for debate.

A proposal drawn up by the village's Economic Development Commission had the cost split 50-50, something Village President Mark Eisenberg had reservations with.

"Our reserves we build up by being extremely frugal," he said. "To take that kind of risk, when for a couple years we've been deficit spending, concerns me."

He also pointed to the loan for the sewer project, which was supposed to be paid using connection fees and annual sewer revenue, but the system hasn't generated enough revenue to cover the whole bill.

Eisenberg said he could see supporting a split more along the lines of 75 percent covered by businesses and 25 percent by the village.

The village has the option of enforcing an ordinance it already has on the books, which would require some businesses within range to hook up to the water system at their own cost, Lee said. That would move the line out farther, thereby reaching more businesses who would then have to connect.

Trustee Ron Kopke proposed cutting the project up into phases, so that the reserves aren't hit all at once.

Although Lee said he was fine to do the improvements in sections, he pointed out that it would cost more overall.

Regardless of how the village decides to fund the project, Lee said, the improvements need to be made.

"The economy will turn around," he said. "It's already turning around. Businesses are already investing in other towns. If we don't have the infrastructure, they're going to drive on by. We have to do this. We can't live on housing fees. We learned that."

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