Water meter project nears completion with $1.7 million budget funding

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Water meter project nears completion with $1.7 million budget funding

April 23, 2019 - 11:01
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A year from now, it’s likely every home in Flossmoor will have a new water meter, a change that could significantly reduce water loss in a notoriously leaky system.
 
The new village budget, approved April 15, includes $1,726,577 for the installation of 1,895 residential water meters in Flossmoor. The village has about 3,700 residential water customers and has been installing the new meters since 2016.
 
Until the current budget cycle, installation of the remaining meters had been delayed due to lack of funding. Village Manager Bridget Wachtel said completing the water meter project will be possible because of a surplus in the Water and Sewer Fund and a transfer from the General Fund, which will be repaid over time.
 
Financing the water meters is one of several capital projects that is being funded in the $28.3 million budget document, which covers 20 funds ranging from police pensions to debt service to the Flossmoor Public Library and the village’s public art program.
 
The General Fund, with projected expenditures of $13,255,434, pays for most day-to-day operations in Flossmoor’s municipal government. Water and sewer operations, in the new budget, are expected to cost about $3.8 million. Approving the budget is the most important fiscal action that the village board takes each year.
 
Wachtel, in her final report to the board before the budget was passed, said the Water and Sewer Fund in the previous budget is projected to have a $431,149 operating surplus. Of that, $300,000 will be used to help pay for the water meter project. The remaining amount for the project, more than $1.4 million, will be funded with General Fund monies with the intent to repay that fund in coming years with a transfer from the Sewer and Water Fund, she said.
 
With the installation of the new Sensus iPerl meters, Flossmoor’s entire meter inventory will be converted to a radio read system. That will allow the village to read meters quicker, more efficiently and provide the opportunity to identify leaks and other meter issues on a daily basis with real-time data.
 
Some residential meters in Flossmoor are more than 30 years old and have brass fittings. The new meters are a plastic composite with no moving parts. As before, water flows through the meters, which now have digital components to keep track of flow.
 
Other capital projects in the new budget include:
 
The Brookwood bridge and Butterfield Road culvert reconstruction, which has a projected budget of $1.1 million. The project is contingent on grant funding from the state for the road and bridge.
 
Sanitary sewer engineering and construction in Flossmoor Hills and Highland Hills. The project has a proposed budget of $1.45 million and is contingent on funding from the Illinois Environmental Projection Agency. The project would include spot repairs, total segment replacement and cured-in-place lining to restore the function and integrity of the sanitary sewer system in those neighborhoods.
 
The Dartmouth bike bridge replacement project. This project has a projected budget of $500,000, which is to come from the General Fund, and would include engineering and construction. It would also be designed to stabilize banks along Butterfield Creek.
 
Village hall improvements. Phase 1 of this project has a projected budget of $250,000 from the General Fund and will address: security issues and the administration/finance department front desk; security issues at the building department front desk; reception area and remodeling of the complex’s bathrooms and locker room facilities. 
 
The budget also includes $25,000 for a survey of historic homes and buildings and between $10,000 and $20,000 for a leaf collection program in the fall.  
 
Expenditures exceed revenues in Flossmoor’s budget for the 2020 fiscal year. 
 
The General Fund reflects a $2,593,088 budgeted total deficit inclusive of a $535,879 operating deficit, Wachtel said. The village plans to cover the deficit by utilizing fund balances including set-asides in the Finance and Facilities Plan, she said.
 
Wachtel said the operating deficit is largely due to an increased budget in the General Fund to support street resurfacing in the amount of $250,000, the budgetary “catch up” of three years of police officer salaries following a recent arbitration award as well as non-union wage adjustments and step adjustments and additional funding requests.
 
“While there is adequate fund balance to support this operational shortfall, its continued use is not sustainable,” Wachtel said.
 
On a positive note, the village collected $401,000 in additional sales tax last year as a result of its non-home rule referendum in March 2018. Voters in the village approved an additional penny in sales tax. Flossmoor has tripled its sales tax annually in the three years since the Meijer store opened.