HILLCREST — At its monthly meeting Wednesday, the Hillcrest Village Board voted unanimously to approve a $2.54 million loan application to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for Hillcrest's priority one water main replacement project.
The village's engineering firm, Baxter & Woodman, is aiming for $1.25 million in principal forgiveness on the loan. The village would have to pay back $1.29 million at an interest rate of .93 percent. Hillcrest recently raised its service fees each month from $5 to $10 for the application and that and the work will require a future increase in water rates.
The first 1,000 gallons used would go 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 would need to go from $31 per month to $38 in 2023 and $45 in 2024.
The village still has the opportunity to back out of the venture if it desires. Baxter & Woodman expects to get and approve bids for the project in March or April 2023 and begin construction in July or August and complete it by December 2023.
Trustees and Baxter & Woodman representatives also discussed a new national requirement that will cause the village to have to take inventory of what material makes up water service lines to each home and business in Hillcrest to determine if there are lead service lines.
Lead use in water service lines was banned in 1988. Most village homes were built in the 1950s. The Windover Park subdivision was built in 1992 and that time of build will make those homes exempt from inspection for lead lines.
Hillcrest has 405 homes and 450 buildings total.
The village plans to send information to homeowners on how they can inspect the water lines into their homes and report to the village what they're made of. Baxter & Woodman will get the village an estimate for what the cost would be for the firm to do the inventory work.
The village's lead 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 there are some grants currently available for that work.
Bill Newkirk of Newkirk & Associates presented findings of the village's audit for the year that ended in June.
Newkirk said in relation to other small villages, the cash position of Hillcrest's general fund is "very strong." The general fund had a balance of almost $2.7 million at the end of the fiscal year with total expenditures of $316,000. A common measurement is that fund balances should be at least 50 percent of expenditures for the year.
"The fund balance you have in the general fund is far and away above what I'd say an average village of this size would carry," Newkirk said.
Newkirk also said that the village does not have "a significant amount" of debt.
Village Trustee Dan Potter said meter readings are at 100 percent, which means Hillcrest's water equipment purchase from recent months is "working great."
Water service shut offs are down 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 it was getting turned off if there wasn't payment," Potter said. "So that's good."
Potter said he plans to send payment for a planned inspection of the village's water tower that the infrastructure is in need of.
Village Trustee Rick Rhoads said salt will soon be delivered for winter maintenance in Hillcrest and he's looking into getting a building put in to act as a salt shed.
Rhoads said the price of salt has increased again this year. Two years ago it was about $50 per ton, last year it was $75 per ton and this year it's $101 per ton. The village purchased 75 tons for a total of $7,600 this year.
Village trustees and Village Attorney Paul Chadwick will review the Ogle County UTV ordinance to discuss at the next meeting for the possibility of allowing UTVs in Hillcrest.
Village Clerk Dawn Bearrows said Hillcrest is still without a maintenance employee and the village is endeavoring to make a hire through a number of different channels.