EAST PEORIA — The City Council approved on Tuesday a fraction of what it used to spend to maintain city streets and by-ways, and had to employ some creative bookkeeping to raise even that significantly smaller amount.
Facing more more than $40 million in needed repairs across the city, and at least a $500,000 budget deficit in the upcoming fiscal year, the city approved a road maintenance budget of $450,000.
"Fortunately we were able to spend a little more than we originally thought," said Commissioner Dan Decker, who oversees the city's road maintenance.
It could have been worse.
The city spent $2.5 million on road repairs in 2015, but borrowed money from future motor fuel tax receipts to do so. That debt is paid off, but city officials are still contending with holes in the budget at least the match for holes in the roads caused by the freezes, thaws and rains of this late winter.
In order to raise the money for a minimum number of road repair projects, City Administrator Jeff Eder parlayed money saved the last couple of mildi-ish winters into the road maintenance budget.
Illinois Department of Transportation regulations do not allow municipalities to use motor fuel tax funds to repay loans made on past street maintenance programs, but do allow the money to be spent on road salt. So, the city will use the MFT funds to pay for $245,000 worth of road salt, freeing that amount from the general budget to be applied to the next year's road maintenance budget. Combined with $205,000 of MFT funds earmarked for road maintenance, that brings to $450,000 the amount to spend to repair and maintain city roads in 2018.
The council approved the $450,000 expenditure 4-0 to repair, repave and sealcoat streets as prioritized by the street department and the city's engineers, Patrick Meyer & Associates.
The list of priorities is still being developed.
Scott Hilyard can be reached at 686-3244 or by email at email@example.com. Follow @scotthilyard on Twitter.