Posted Online: Sept. 04, 2013, 10:52 pm

Coal Valley discusses dwindling reserves

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By Sarah Hayden, correspondent@qconline.com

COAL VALLEY -- Village capital improvement projects are getting a closer look by trustees concerned about depleting financial reserves.

At Wednesday's committee of the whole meeting, village administrator Alan Wilson said reserves have dropped below $800,000. He asked trustees to re-evaluate future village projects.

"I hate to see us have less than a million dollars in reserves," said village trustee Rick Lasek. "The sidewalk extension (project) can go."

Mr. Wilson advised trustees to move forward with plans to extend water and sewer lines on the west side of West 3rd Street, saying those residents still use septic tanks.The village owes $1.4 million on a bond loan and must borrow up to $2.4 million for the water and sewer project, he said.

"When actual engineering estimates come in, I think they'll be on the lower side," Mr. Wilson said.

He informed trustees the village can apply for a state revolving fund loan specifically for water and sewer projects. The program charges 1.93 percent in simple interest over 20 years, he said, using federal money managed by the state.

Mr. Wilson said the state will only approve the loan with an advance copy of the design of the project that shows placement of easements, right of way and other engineering details. The application package could cost up to $25,000, he said.

Presenting other options of raising revenue, he said Coal Valley could gain $13,000 annually with a 5 percent hike in property taxes. He also said the village could gain revenue by raising the basic water rate, currently $8.50 per household, with usage charges on top of that.

"We should pursue it as far as a funding source," said village trustee Richard Stone. "I'd be more receptive to an increase in that (water rate) than property taxes.

"I think we should tax water usage; to me it's more fair," he said. "Right now the village is bringing in $1.2 million per year on the water."

In regular session, trustees:

-- Approved using $88,762 in Motor Fuel Tax funds for various roadwork projects in the village.

-- Held a first reading of a proposed amendment to a fence height ordinance, lowing the required height from six feet to five feet.

-- Approved an outdoor band until midnight Sept. 21 at Mulligan's Valley Pub. The village ordinance states outdoor bands must stop playing by 11 p.m.