As part of the Capital Improvement Program, Naperville City Council spent time reviewing infrastructure projects planned for the city and how they play into the budget.
Next year’s plans got a close look from council, especially considering that a quarter of the $64.6 million requested in projects don’t have a funding source and would potentially need borrowed money to complete.
One of those projects is reconstruction and expansion of the central parking facility, a need most council members thought wasn’t necessary.
“I hear very few complaints about parking and I live in the downtown area, I’m down here all the time. There might be four weekends a year where parking is tight, and that’s okay,” said Councilman Kevin Gallaher.
Councilwoman Becky Anderson disagreed, using her own experience as a downtown business owner to make her point.
“We host events and people are coming from other communities, other states to attend these, and when they can’t find parking, they’re not coming back. For me, there’s not enough parking,” said Councilwoman Anderson.
But they weren’t just looking at the year ahead. The five-year Capital Improvement Program calls for about $387 million for projects like the Water Street District, software for information technology and building upgrades, which are also not totally funded.
Staff presented three scenarios to how they want to tackle the funding. One would take on no new debt, while the second would, by borrowing for unfunded projects. The third would also borrow for the central parking facility.
Most agreed with the mayor that taking on some debt will be necessary to help the city stay up to date.
“I don’t think we can allow the city to fall behind on these types of projects, for some of them we’d be giving up matching funds, for others we’re just simply falling behind as a community,” said Steve Chirico, Mayor of the City of Naperville.
Councilman Krummen took a different stance and didn’t want to see any more debt be taken on.
“I get that sometimes you borrow when you have to build a project and you have to do these projects, but at what point does the city say ‘wow, we have to do what we have to do and live within our means’,” said Councilman John Krummen.
Through a 7-1 vote, the council directed staff to find ways to cut back on borrowing for projects from $10.6 million to $8 million, and to not include the central parking facility.
Council is expected to vote on a final budget at the December 1st meeting after a public hearing.
Naperville News 17’s Alyssa Bochenek Reports.
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