HILLCREST — At its monthly meeting on Wednesday, the Hillcrest Village Board voted unanimously to approve a $2.54 million loan application to the Environmental Protection Agency of Illinois for the priority Hillcrest Watermain Replacement Project.
The village engineering firm, Baxter & Woodman, is aiming for a $1.25 million principal forgiveness on the loan. The village is expected to repay $1.29 million at an interest rate of 0.93%. Hillcrest recently increased its service fee each month from $5 to $10 for the application and that and the work will require future water rate increases.
The first 1,000 gallons used would drop from $4.41 per gallon to $5.70 per gallon in 2023 and $6.98 in 2024. A Baxter & Woodman representative said the average water bill is expected to drop by 31 $ per month at $38 in 2023 and $45 in 2024.
The village still has the option of opting out of the business if it wishes. Baxter & Woodman expects to secure and approve bids for the project in March or April 2023 and begin construction in July or August and complete by December 2023.
Baxter & Woodman directors and representatives also discussed a new nationwide requirement that will require the Village to take an inventory of the materials that make up the water pipes of every Hillcrest home and business to determine if there are any. lead service lines.
The use of lead in water pipes was banned in 1988. Most village houses were built in the 1950s. The Windover Park housing estate was built in 1992 and this construction period will exempt these houses from the inspection of lead pipes.
Hillcrest has 405 houses and 450 buildings in total.
The village plans to send information to homeowners on how they can inspect the water pipes in their homes and report to the village what they are made of. Baxter & Woodman will provide the village with an estimate of the cost for the company to carry out the inventory work.
The Village Primary Service Lines report is due to the state on April 14, 2023. The final deadline is April 15, 2024.
If lead service lines are found, replacement will be required in the future and some grants are currently available for this work.
Bill Newkirk of Newkirk & Associates presented the results of the village audit for the year ending in June.
Newkirk said that, compared to other small villages, Hillcrest’s general fund cash position is “very strong”. The general fund had a balance of nearly $2.7 million at the end of the fiscal year with total expenditures of $316,000. A common metric is that fund balances must be at least 50% of the year’s expenses.
“The fund balance you have in the general fund is far greater than what I would say an average village of this size would carry,” Newkirk said.
Newkirk also said the village did not have “a significant amount” of debt.
Village administrator Dan Potter said meter readings were at 100 per cent, meaning Hillcrest’s purchase of water equipment in recent months is “working very well”.
Water service cuts have gone from about six a month on average to one a month, which he called “phenomenal”.
“Because people tend to use a lot of water during the summer and now would be the time to turn it off if there was no payment,” Potter said. “So it’s good.”
Potter said he plans to send payment for a scheduled inspection of the village water tower that the infrastructure needs.
Village administrator Rick Rhoads said salt would soon be delivered for winter maintenance at Hillcrest and he was considering having a building constructed to serve as a salt shed.
Rhoads said the price of salt has risen again this year. Two years ago it was about $50 a ton, last year it was $75 a ton, and this year it’s $101 a ton. The village purchased 75 tons for a total of $7,600 this year.
Village Administrators and Village Attorney Paul Chadwick will review the Ogle County UTV Ordinance to discuss at the next meeting the possibility of allowing UTVs in Hillcrest.
Village clerk Dawn Bearrows said Hillcrest still does not have a maintenance worker and the village is trying to recruit through various channels.