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Portillo’s progress

Flossmoor is ready to begin its annual street resurfacing program in the next few weeks. Village officials said this week, however, that state Motor Fuel Tax (MFT) funds that are used to pay for street repairs are woefully inadequate to meet the village’s needs this year.

Mayor Paul Braun said Monday that Flossmoor should be spending a half million dollars this summer to maintain local streets. But the state is providing just $365,383.80 in MFT monies toward the purchase of salt and putting down new asphalt on village streets, several of which are in a serious state of disrepair.

Motor Fuel Taxes are collected by the state and shared with local municipalities. Braun said the MFT disbursements are based on how much gas is purchased in Illinois. When gas sales are down – as has been the case for the last few years – MFT revenues to cities and villages also decline. Braun said the state needs to change the formula so that Flossmoor and other towns receive the MFT funds that they need to fix local streets.

Village board members approved a resolution accepting this year’s allocation of Motor Fuel Taxes. Of this year’s money, Public Works Director John Brunke said $140,000 will go toward buying salt and $220,000 will be used for street repairs.

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Flossmoor has 42 miles of streets that must be maintained, Brunke said, and several local byways are showing their age. For instance, a number of Flossmoor streets were rebuilt in 1989; that road work was funded by a bond issue. Twenty-six years later, the streets need to be resurfaced but Flossmoor has no revenue stream to do that work. He estimated that resurfacing those streets would cost $1.6 million.

“We can investigate other funding opportunities,” Brunke said, adding that asphalt prices are steadily climbing. He said an Illinois Department of Transportation official recently met with several area public works directors and that officials from all the towns say they don’t have adequate MFT funding.

“MFT funding is decreasing and we are struggling to keep up,” Village Manager Bridget Wachtel said.

Brunke told the H-F Chronicle that this year’s list of MFT projects is being developed and should be finalized in the next week or so.

“In terms of selection, we survey the village streets each spring and select the streets that are in the worst condition to be in that year’s program,” he said. “The program list is limited by the annual budget available.”

In other business Monday, village board members approved the purchase of three houses in Flossmoor’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district. Village Attorney Edward McCormick said he recently concluded negotiations with the owners of the three homes, located at 3601 198th St., 3752 198th St. and 19719 Crawford Ave. The homes are being purchased, respectively, for $240,000, $300,000 and $350,000, for a total cost of $890,000.

The village’s TIF district takes up an area roughly bounded by 198th on the north, Vollmer Road on the south, Central Park Avenue on the east and Crawford on the west. The Meijer superstore complex is under construction on the western section of the TIF district.

TIF districts are used to finance economic revitalization in blighted areas or areas at risk of blight, according to information on the Cook County website. After a baseline equalized assessed valuation of property in the district is established, any increase in property values will generate tax revenues above the baseline, and that additional revenue goes into the TIF redevelopment fund. 

Money from that fund can be used for projects that improve public infrastructure, help create private developments or help create jobs.

Village officials are hopeful that the Meijer project will spur further development in other sections of the TIF district. The three homes will eventually be demolished – other TIF district houses were burned last year during fire department training exercises.

Wachtel said Flossmoor hopes to acquire four more structures in the TIF area. Those houses are vacant and may be acquired through a Cook County program allowing the village to take over property whose owners failed to pay back taxes.

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