DuPage County Board Chairman Robert Schillerstrom is proposing DuPage County borrow nearly $70 million for improvements to area roads, flood programs and other infrastructure over the next 30 years. The borrowing plan would use funds available through the Federal Recovery Zone and Build America bond subsidy program, giving DuPage County a 3.2% interest rate that is about a point lower than the standard financing rate.
“We can get money very, very inexpensively at this point,” said Schillerstrom.
“And that program ends at the end of this year, so it’s the need and the opportunity for cheap money that I think is making us really look at this.”
The Chairman says the lower interest rate could save DuPage County $5 million over the course of the loan program. And he is quick to point out the projects, like repairs on 75th Street, Belmont Road and 55th Street just east of Naperville provide value for the whole County.
“They’re all important, they’re all necessary projects,” said Schillerstrom.
“And I think they’re all projects that will improve our quality of life, not only here today, but in the future of DuPage County.”
Of the $69.7 million Schillerstrom wants to borrow, $38 million would go to fund capital improvements at the County Complex in Wheaton.
State Senator Dan Cronin is the Republican nominee to replace Schillerstrom in November’s election. He is not convinced Schillerstrom’s plan is something the County needs right now.
“These are not compelling needs,” Cronin said. “You are going to put a debt, a burden on taxpayers that we have no way of paying off right now.”
Cronin thinks that, with DuPage’s fragile economy and lagging revenues, this is a bad time to take a risk like the one outlined by Schillerstrom.
“It looks a lot like Springfield to me,” Cronin explained. “I’ve spent nearly 20 years in Springfield. This plan looks a lot like the previous administration under Governor Blagojevich: ‘Let’s make promises today, let’s enjoy some benefits today and we’ll figure out how to pay for it down the road’. . . and that offends me.”
But even with opposition, Schillerstrom contends DuPage taxpayers should take advantage of today’s low cost federal loan offerings for capital improvements that eventually must be completed.
“There are certain projects that we really think need to be done to benefit the people of DuPage County,” counters Schillerstrom. “Not just today, but for the years to come.”
DuPage County board members have had preliminary discussions about the plan. The next DuPage County board meeting is August 24.
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