Oak Lawn board OKs $15M bond sale for water system
By Howard Ludwig Correspondent email@example.com September 11, 2013 10:48PM
Updated: October 15, 2013 6:40AM
The Oak Lawn Village Board has approved a $15 million bond issue to improve its Lake Michigan water distribution system, which serves about 325,000 people in the Southland.
Trustees on Monday night voted 4-2 for the bond sale, which will help pay for a systemwide overhaul that’s expected to top $166 million. The total cost will be shared through higher water rates among the 12 communities that get lake water from Chicago via Oak Lawn.
Village manager Larry Deetjen said the aging water system badly needs improvements and will be converted into a “looped system” with a large new water main that will allow Oak Lawn to continue to provide water even in the event of a broken pump or water pipe.
The planned improvements will greatly reduce energy costs by installing more efficient turbines at pumping stations and improve safety through an upgraded electrical system, Deetjen said. Plans also call improved technology to detect problems in the system before there is a water main break.
He told trustees that the village incurring the bond debt will have long-term benefits as Oak Lawn will gain increased revenue from providing water to its “downstream” customers.
Not everyone was as enthusiastic. Trustee Alex Olejniczak (2nd) was concerned by the ever-changing cost projections for the project. Trustee Mike Carberry (6th) worried about adding to Oak Lawn’s mounting debt load. Both requested a two-week extension to further review the financial aspects of the plan.
Deetjen warned trustees that an extension could be costly because the current 1.93 percent interest rate on the bonds expires at the end of the month. The rate is expected to go up to at least 2 percent in October, he said.
Trustees Robert Streit (3rd) and Terry Vorderer (4th) reminded the board and the audience that the water improvement project has been five years in the making and little would be gained by delaying the vote.
After the approval of the bond sale, Deetjen lauded trustees for taking the first step in support of the regional water improvement project, saying, “everyone is looking for a leader. I commend that you are the leaders.”