Street repairs top McHenry’s list of priorities

McHENRY – Repaving about two miles of city streets is at the top of a staff-prepared priority list as the McHenry City Council heads into its annual budgeting process after approving a flat levy in December.

The first step in that process is putting together a five-year capital improvement plan, which includes all projects and equipment purchases with a price tag of at least $10,000, City Administrator Derik Morefield said.

A draft of the plan was submitted to the council for discussion Monday evening.

All of the items of the plan won’t actually get funded, but it helps the city keep different programs and priorities on its radar, Morefield said.

Fifteen projects – across the administrative, police, streets and parks department – are recommended to be considered for this upcoming fiscal year, which starts May 1. (The number of projects jumps to 20 if the street improvement projects are identified separately.)

They include:

• $450,000 for the city’s street program, which would involve resurfacing about two miles of the city’s roughest roads.

• Purchasing and installing new billing software for the finance and utility departments, replacing an obsolete system that can be "barely supported anymore," Morefield said.

• $20,000 worth of park improvements to bring the city in line with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

• Replacing vehicles in various departments.

The total estimated cost for all the proposed projects would be about $10.6 million with $9.6 million being covered by non-general fund dollars.

Last year, staff proposed about $500,000 worth of projects, and the increase this year comes from the street program.

The last time the city funded a street improvement program was during fiscal 2011-12, Morefield said.

“If we don’t start addressing it, it’s not going to get any better,” he told the council. “It’s not going away.”

The city may need to start with the street program and work around it, so that it doesn’t keep getting pushed back, Morefield said after the meeting.

Several major street projects also are lined up for this year, many with the local portion being covered by motor fuel tax dollars, a funding stream which is also eaten up by road salt purchases.

The projects include improving the Route 31 and 120 intersection and surrounding area; McCullom Lake Road from Route 31 to the northern city limits just north of Lakewood Road; Bull Valley Road from Draper Road to Curran Road; and Knox Drive, connecting Municipal Drive and Charles J. Miller Road.

Alderman Andy Glab questioned why the proposed traffic signal at West Crystal Lake Road and Dartmoor Drive was pushed off until fiscal 2018-19.

The traffic study that found conditions did not warrant the installation of a traffic signal was done when school was out, he said, adding that if it had been done when school was in session, it probably would have found that the counts would have been met.

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