Springfield aldermen Tuesday night approved two of Mayor Houston’s four proposed options for funding long-term infrastructure projects.
Aldermen voted 6-3 to raise the city sales tax from 8 percent to 8.5 percent. The increase will go into effect January 1, 2014. The new revenue will be dedicated to $86.6 million in borrowing for repair of roads, sidewalks and storm sewers.
The Council voted 6-4 in favor of a plan to pay for sanitary sewers through a low-interest loan from the Illinois EPA. Mayor Houston cast the deciding “yes” vote on that ordinance. The loan will be paid off over the next 20 years through a gradual increase to sewer rates. Rates will go up 5 percent each year for the next ten years.
Aldermen Tuesday night opted not to pay for sanitary sewer projects with a one-quarter of one percent sales tax hike.
They also rejected an option that would have funded maintenance of streets and sidewalks by increasing the sales tax by an additional one-quarter of one percent.
Alderman Steve Dove was absent Tuesday. Ward 7 Ald. Joe McMenamin told the Council that Dove contacted him to ask that they not delay voting. Dove co-sponsored the ordinance for the EPA sewer loan, but previously voiced opposition to raising the sales tax.
The two ordinances passed Tuesday are 2013-124 and 2013-127. The two that failed are 2013-125 and 2013-126. Here are details on all four.
Ordinance 2013-124 (passed 6-3):
- ½% sales tax increase to fund $86.6 million bond issue that will fund a 3 year program targeting worst streets, sidewalks, and storm sewers.
- 15 year pay off to match the average life of asphalt overlay, would allow overlay of 135 miles out of the 360 miles of asphalt streets in the city.
Ordinance 2013-127 (passed 6-4, Mayor Houston voting “yes”):
- Houston: “will propose a new approach to paying for our sewers which I believe are on the brink of collapse”
- IEPA Clean Water Initiative would allow city to borrow funds at low interest rates
- Would borrow $6 million a year from the EPA on an annual basis for 10 years, paying each loan off over a 20 year period
- Would fund $60 million in total sewer projects over the next decade
- Would require increasing the sewer fee by 5% per year for 10 years
- Average household in Springfield (10 units of water, $9.40 per month) would see less than $.50 monthly increase each year – total increase of roughly $5.00 by 2024.
Ordinance 2013-125 (failed)
- ¼% sales tax increase to fund ongoing maintenance of streets, sidewalks and storm sewers.
Ordinance 2013-126 (failed)
- ¼% sales tax increase to fund the $55 million of combined and sanitary sewer projects
- Would take approximately 12.5 years to fund