Tag Archives: John Nevenhoven

Committee recommends higher water-sewer charges

Village Board to vote on proposal at March 15 meeting
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Elburn Village Board members in recent weeks have debated the best way to raise water and sewer revenue, with ideas ranging from charging a customer fee to hiking usage rates. On Monday, they decided the village should do both.

The Committee of the Whole recommended that the village establish a $10 base fee ($5 for water and $5 for sewer) and increase usage rates to $6.10 per 100 cubic feet ($3.50 for water and $2.59 for sewer).

The Village Board will vote on the recommendation during its next meeting, Monday, March 15.

Elburn officials determined in February that the village needs to charge more for water and sewer service because of rising costs, declining revenue and an aging water and sewer system needing repairs,

“It’s a bitter pill that we have to swallow, but it’s been neglected for so long,” Trustee Patricia Romke said Monday.

The village has not raised its water and sewer rates in many years. Currently, the sewer usage rate is $2 per 100 cubic feet, and the water rate is $2.69 per 100 cf.

Trustee Bill Grabarek did not agree with the Committee of the Whole’s recommendation Monday. Grabarek said the proposed increases in water and sewer charges would impact low users on limited incomes, including seniors and single people, the hardest. He believes that the village should raise usage rates more and charge a lower base fee.

“My feeling is (when the Village Board votes on the recommendation), I’m probably going to say ‘nay,’” Grabarek said.

In addition, the reserve fund that the village draws on to pay for water and sewer capital improvements has dwindled. By the end of the fiscal year this June, that capital fund will total just $53,000, compared to $543,000 five years ago, Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven said. Several major water and sewer projects needed this year alone will cost more than $100,000.

With the rate increase proposed Monday, annual water and sewer operations, costing $1.15 million, could “break even” in 2010-11; the hike would boost revenue by about $303,000 annually, Nevenhoven said.

Monthly water and sewer operating revenue has fallen short of operating costs by about $25,000 monthly for more than a year, Nevenhoven said.

The $10 base fee would raise more than $150,000 annually for the water and sewer capital improvement fund, village officials said. Their goal to build up the fund to be able to pay for future unexpected and planned projects, including painting two water towers for $400,000.

How much would
water-sewer bills go up?

The following chart shows estimated increases in monthly water and sewer bills for households and businesses if the Village Board approves the new base fee and usage rates proposed on Monday.
Current bill  /  Proiected bill
$10    $16.10
$10.38    $22.17
$14.07    $28.24
$18.76    $34.32
$23.45    $40.38
$42.21    $64.66
$70.35    $101.08
$93.80    $131.43
$150.08    $204.27
$178.22    $240.69

Stimulus funds sought for aging stormwater system upgrades

Villages apply for $3.4M for flood reduction projects
by Martha Quetsch
MP, ELBURN—Maple Park and Elburn officials hope that economic stimulus funds will make sorely needed stormwater system improvements possible in their villages.

The two villages, along with Cortland, applied this week for $3.4 million in federal funds for stormwater drainage repairs and improvements to reduce residential flooding.

In Maple Park, sections of the village’s existing storm water sewers are “archaic” and are not effectively mitigating water during heavy rains or when snow melts, Maple Park Village President Kathy Curtis said.

A village engineering study in 2008 recommended stormwater system improvements with an estimated cost of $1.8 million. However, the village does not have the funds to undertake such a project, Curtis said.

By applying collectively, the villages could have a better chance of securing some or all of the much-needed funding, Maple Park trustee Suzanne Fahnestock said.

In the combined funding application, Elburn Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven stated that the northwest side of the village experiences frequent flooding, standing water and sewer back-ups due to an “inadequate and antiquated storm sewer system.”

Elburn applied for stimulus funding to install new storm sewers in that area, a project with an estimated cost of $192,000. The project would reduce street flooding and standing water in residential yards that plague that part of town by replacing existing storm sewer lines that were installed during the 1920s and 1930s, Nevenhoven said.

Those aging lines “are woefully undersized to meet demand, have completely clogged or clog easily during a rain event,” Nevenhoven said.

If Elburn does not obtain the stimulus funds, it could use money from the water and sewer capital fund, Village Administrator Erin Willrett said; the fund currently totals just $53,000, but village officials are considering boosting the balance through higher water and sewer charges.

Another option for Elburn, if it does not receive the stimulus funds, would be to pay for the new storm sewers through the village’s fund designated for expanding the wastewater treatment plant in the future, Willrett said. The fund currently has a balance of $1.5 million.

Village officials: Projects would create 100 jobs
In their combined application for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (federal economic stimulus program) funding for stormwater system improvements, officials from Maple Park, Elburn and Cortland estimated that the projects would create more than 100 jobs.

On Feb. 13, 2009, the U.S. Congress passed the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. According to the federal government’s recovery.gov website, the act’s goals are to create new jobs and save existing ones, and to spur economic activity and invest in long-term growth.

Village officials: Higher water, sewer charges needed

Rate hikes, customer fee among options
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Senior resident Joanne Gordon is concerned about the impact that a proposed $20 water and sewer fee would have on her household budget and those of others. Village officials are considering the new fee to boost revenue they said is necessary to ensure efficient water and sewer services.

“I understand the need, but it is going to be a hardship on many people,” said Gordon, who lives in the 300 block of West Nebraska Street.

The $20 customer fee per household would increase water and sewer revenue by $463,200 per year, Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven said.

During Monday’s Village Board meeting, Gordon asked the board to consider an alternative that would have a smaller impact on the pocketbooks of those with fixed or limited incomes.

“Is there something that can be proposed that would be in the middle, that would be less hard on people?” Gordon said.

Village trustees discussed other options Monday, such as charging senior households and those who use the least water either a lower customer fee or no fee. They also talked about raising the rates that the village charges for usage in the future. Those rates have not changed for many years—$2.69 per 100 cubic feet for water and $2 per 100 cubic feet for sewer.

“We are going to have to look at a higher price for water,” Trustee Bill Grabarek said.

The Village Board is expected to make a decision about charging more for water and sewer services during their 2010-11 budget planning within the next three months.

By the end of the fiscal year this summer, the village’s water and sewer fund will have about $53,000 available for capital improvements, compared to $543,000 five years ago, Nevenhoven said.

The existing water and sewer fund falls far short of what is necessary to pay for operations and several major water and sewer improvements Nevenhoven said are needed this year to keep the system operating smoothly (see below).

“This (the $20 customer fee) is one of the quickest ways to get that fund re-built,” Nevenhoven said. “I realize it’s going to be hard on people, but we need to push the water from the well to the user and we need to treat it.”

The reason the fund has dwindled is because water and sewer connection fees collected by the village for new homes have dropped dramatically with the residential building decline, Nevenhoven said. The water and sewer fund, under state law, must be self-sustaining and cannot include property tax revenue, he said.

Trustee Ken Anderson suggested implementing the customer service fee and when it builds up the water and sewer capital fund enough to pay for needed improvements and emergency projects, then the village could transition out of the customer fee and into a higher usage rates.

Trustee Patricia Romke and Village President Dave Anderson said the $20 fee is not an unreasonable amount for households to pay.

“I just think that this is so minimal,” Romke said.

The minimum monthly household water and sewer bill of $24.69 for water and sewer, including the $20 proposed customer fee, would be less than a dollar a day, Village President Dave Anderson said.

“I believe the water I use in a day is worth $1, fixed income and all,” he added.

New revenue needed
for improvements

The village of Elburn proposed a $20 monthly customer fee for water and sewer services to provide revenue for system improvements this year including the following:
• removing and replacing sections of
sewer that have collapsed in the
Cambridge subdivision, $20,000;
• extending the Main Street Alley
west-side alley water line to
eliminate a dead-end causing
stagnant water odor, $20,000;
• sequestering iron at wells No. 3 and
No. 4 for $27,000;
• installing a Third Street water main
extension from the library to
Shannon Street, $40,000;
• inspecting and repairing well No. 3
pump, $10,000; inspecting the north
water tower, $3,000;
• inspecting and cleaning the
Blackberry Creek water tower,
• rebuilding a wasting pump at
the treatment plant, $8,000.
Elburn Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven presented these project proposals to the Village Board on Monday and said they need to be done as soon as possible, hopefully this summer.

Village study proposes water, sewer fee increase

Board to discuss issue Feb. 22
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—The revenue-strapped village of Elburn could boost its budget by $463,200 per year by charging every household in Elburn a $20 base fee for water and sewer service, according to a Public Works Department study that village officials requested.

Elburn officials have been considering boosting revenue by raising residents’ sewer and water charges since the village had to dip into its approximately $5 million reserve fund to cover a $2 million shortfall in its 2009-10 budget. A deficit in the water and sewer fund was a significant part of the deficit in the nearly $7 million budget.

Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven issued the results of the water and sewer rate study to village officials in a Feb. 12 memorandum. The memo states that the water and sewer operating and capital funds experienced a deficit of $543,413 between February 2008 and November 2009, a drop attributed to the decrease in water and sewer connection fees from new-home construction.

The village’s water rate for residents has been $2.69 per 100 cubic feet since 2005. The sewer rate of $2 per 100 cubic feet since 1986.

The proposed $20 base fee would be in addition to the fee for usage, which would be based on the existing rates. Currently, the minimum monthly bill for water and sewer service is $10, which includes usage.

The Village Board will discuss the proposed $20 base fee for water and sewer service during the Monday, Feb. 22, meeting.

Village President Dave Anderson said he hopes that the Village Board decides on a water and sewer fee increase so that the village can put it into effect at the start of the fiscal year in June.

Repainting water towers will cost $400,000

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Two of the village’s three water towers will need to be repainted within the next two years, Elburn Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven said Monday.

Nevenhoven said the First Street water tower will need to be repainted in 2012, at an estimated cost of $250,000. The tower was built in 1972 and was last repainted in 1997.

The Prairie Valley North water tower will need repainting in 2011, at an estimated cost of $150,000, Nevenhoven said. The tower was built in 1996.

The water tower improvements were among potential capital improvement projects that Nevenhoven submitted to the Public Works Committee Monday. Village officials requested the list as part of their future budget planning process.

The village’s third water tower, built in 2004 in Blackberry Creek, will not require repainting until 2020, Nevenhoven said.

Nevenhoven recommended that the village begin setting aside money for the projects in a capital reserve fund.

Village examines Prairie Park needs

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Prairie Park at North and Third streets needs work, said Elburn Public Works Committee Chairman Jerry Schmidt.

The committee on Monday discussed items needing attention at the park, including a falling footbridge, overgrown weeds and invasive plants, as well as the walkways.

The village will address the weed problem first by holding a controlled burn of the park’s landscape sometime next week.

Last spring, Public Works Supervisor John Nevenhoven identified another project that needs attention—removing and possibly replacing the footbridge across a stream at the park. However, the Village Board did not include the expenditure in the 2009 fiscal-year budget.

Nevenhoven said Monday that the state of the bridge is even worse now, and the structure currently is potentially hazardous.

“The bridge was safe until last week, when someone walked on the guard rail. Now the rail is bent out of shape,” Nevenhoven said.

In addition, some of the bridge’s supports are cracking and heaving.

The Public Works Department recently placed tape and barriers at each end of the bridge to let people know they should not use it.
Nevenhoven again recommended that village officials include the bridge project expense in the next annual budget.

“We wouldn’t have to replace it. We could put in plantings instead, with a concrete overlook,” Nevenhoven said.

Schmidt said he does not want to do away with the bridge.

“I think it would be nice if we could save it,” he said.

The committee asked Nevenhoven to look into the cost for removing and rebuilding the bridge, with a design that includes deeper installation for its piers.

For the time being, the Public Works Department will make sure the bridge remains blocked off, Nevenhoven said.

Schmidt also asked Nevenhoven to identify a way to improve the flagstone walks at the park, which he said are shifting and could be unsafe.

Photo: The village of Elburn blocked off the footbridge at Prairie Park because a vandalized
railing and other weaknesses in the structure make it potentially hazardous.
Photo by Martha Quetsch

Fat in sewer spoils sample

by Martha Quetsch
Elburn—In testing treated wastewater at Elburn’s plant in June, village engineers found a fecal chloroform violation. Village Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven said fats in the sewer system could be the culprit.

“They believe it relates back to fats, oils and greases getting into the tank,” Nevenhoven said.

The engineers, from Baxter Woodman, addressed the problem by increasing the chlorine in the wastewater, Nevenhoven said.

“We are watching it closely so it doesn’t happen again,” Nevenhoven said.

He said restaurant owners must prevent grease from getting into the sewer system by using fat traps.

“The restaurants have to pay people to haul the grease away,” Nevenhoven said.

The Kane County Health Department and licensed plumbers check the traps when they are installed to make sure they work properly.

“The grease traps are there, but if they are not cleaned, not emptied, off the grease goes,” Nevenhoven said.

The village cannot check the traps unless they are outside the restaurants and unless it hires a licensed plumber to do the check.

Village trustee Ken Anderson suggested that the village increase public education about the need to keep grease traps clean.

7/23 Elburn notes

by Martha Quetsch

Shop’s sidewalk sign may be posted at 6 a.m.
Party Animals, 301 E. North St., Elburn, may place a sandwich board sign on the sidewalk in front of the shop starting at 6 a.m., since the Village Board approved a variance to the sign code.

The sign ordinance states that such signs may only be posted between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Owner Cindy Thul asked for the variance because the coffee shop at her business does most of its business before 10 a.m.

Wastewater pumps replaced, payment authorized
The village of Elburn will pay Gaskill & Walton Construction Company $80,400 for the recent installation of three new lift-station pumps at the wastewater treatment plant.

The pumps replaced three aging pumps that were not functioning well, Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven said.

The Village Board authorized the payment Monday after the village engineers, Rempe-Sharp, submitted a certificate of completion of the project.

The village replaced one of the wastewater treatment plant’s four pumps last year, paying Mississippi Valley Pump $17,291 for the project.

The village replaced the pumps to make sure none of them failed during heavy rains, when stormwater has infilitrated the sewer system. Nevehnoven said normally, the wastewater treatment plant pumps approximately 700,000 gallons per day, but during heavy rainfall, the flow has jumped to 3.4 million gallons per day.

Public works staff are investigating the cause of the stormwater infiltration.

Trustees say public works staffing a budget priority

Village will set 2009-10 spending before end of July
by Martha Quetsch
Elburn—Before the Elburn Village Board passes a new annual budget later this month, trustee Jeff Walter wants to make sure it allocates money for more public works department employees.

“The department is seriously understaffed,” Walter said.

Walter said more staff is required for the many projects the department needs to tackle, including significant sewer maintenance, sidewalk and street repairs, and road restriping.

“These are extremely important,” Walter said.

Trustee Gordon Dierschow agreed.

“The Public Works Department definitely needs help. We have some serious problems that have to be taken care of,” Dierschow said.

Elburn Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven recently asked village officials to include $83,692 in the new budget for two new laborers.

Dierschow also wants the village budget to designate money for additional part-time police officers.

Elburn Police Chief Steve Smith asked the village to allocate money in the new budget for three additional part-time police positions; the officers would be paid an average of $20 hour with no overtime or benefits, he said. Smith also wants to hire another full-time officer who would be paid between $46,362 and $53,670.

Hiring additional staff will be a challenge for the village since its revenue has declined because of the drop in building permit fees and utility connection fees it has collected in recent months. Because of revenue constraints, Walter said he is glad that village staff are not seeking raises for 2009-10.

“I think it’s a very prudent move this year,” Walter said.

Dierschow said sales tax from the new Walgreen’s, set to open soon at Route 47 and Route 38, could help cover the cost of more employees. He said keeping expenses down in other areas will help, as well. Dierschow wants the budget to include only the most crucial public works projects this year, including repairing sidewalks that pose safety risks.

“We could forgo all but the most treacherous,” Dierschow said.

Public works director wants more staff, other new expenditures

Village Board will consider requests during budget process
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—The Elburn Village Board should allocate money for new public works staff, storm sewer repairs, a dump truck and a salt dome, among other expenditures when it establishes its 2009-10 budget, said Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven.

Nevenhoven presented the Public Works Committee on Monday with a list of new items he recommended the board include in the next budget.

“Everything on this list is a need, not a desire or a wish,” Nevenhoven said.
Among those needs are $100,000 for storm sewer repairs on Read, Reader, Pierce and North streets; $40,000 for a one-ton dump truck; and a dome to cover the village’s road-salt stores, Nevenhoven said.

The new 4-by-4 dump truck equipped with a salt spreader would replace two older, smaller vehicles. The salt dome would allow the village to store more salt so it would be available if market shortages occurred; in addition, the stored salt would be protected from the effects of the weather: Currently, the salt store is covered with tarps secured with tires and is not fully protected.

“It turns into a solid rock and takes a lot of effort to make it usable each year,” Nevenhoven said.

Nevenhoven also wants the village to spend $83,692 for two new laborers. The public works department has one foreman and five laborers for landscaping and for keeping up village streets, sidewalks, and sewers, which are in need of significant maintenance.

“They are working their tails off. They are doing the job very well, but they need help,” Nevenhoven said.

The Village Board will approve a new budget by the end of July. Meantime, village committees are reviewing lists of proposed new expenditures from department heads.

Another new expenditure on the public works proposed budget is $10,000 to paint and restore the Prairie Park pavilion, which trustee Gordon Dierschow said he will support.

“It’s good that we allocate money for that,” Dierschow said.

He said the 10-year old structure needs improvement.

Well’s barium removal device to be replaced

Increasing water flow in sewer system shortens filter’s life
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—The village of Elburn will replace the radium and barium removal device from one of its wastewater treatment plant wells next week at a cost of $66,640.

The Elburn Village Board on Monday approved the expenditure, recommended by Public Works Superintendent .

Nevenhoven said as the amount of water going through the sanitary sewer system has increased in recent months, so has the level of radium passing through the filtration device on Well No. 3; with that, the device’s useful life was shortened.

“It (the replacement) was needed sooner than anticipated,” Nevenhoven said.

Tests in April indicated the barium level of water passing through Well No. 3 exceeded the 2 mg. per liter allowed by law.

Public Works staff have been examining the village sanitary sewer lines to determine how stormwater has been infiltrating its lines during heavy rainfall. The village has separate sanitary and stormwater sewers

The excess flow so far has not reduced the efficiency of the radium and barium removal devices on the village’s other two wastewater treatment wells. The village installed the filtration devices in 2006 to comply with environmental regulations.

Stormwater sewer lines have blockages, obstructions

Remediation planned, larger pipes may be needed
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—The village of Elburn is stepping up efforts to alleviate residential flooding that is becoming worse, particularly on the near west side of town, during heavy rainfall.

Blocked stormwater sewer lines through which rainwater cannot flow are believed to be the cause.

Public works staff have recently been televising sewer lines with a robotic camera on the northwest section of the village, and flushing out obstructions. But sometimes that is not possible. While televising a stormwater sewer pipe near Reader and Pierce streets, crews found a total blockage.

“They ran into black and we were not able to televise further,” Elburn Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven said during the Public Works Committee meeting May 26.

Nevenhoven said flushing did not work to clear the sewer-line clog.

“It is solid,” he said.

Nevenhoven said the village needs a larger storm sewer to service that area, which experienced pooling and ponding near storm drains during rainfall in recent months. The existing pipe is six inches in diamater.

Stormwater flooding and residential sewage backups hit the older parts of Elburn hardest, specifically the northwest side and the Cambridge subdivision.

Jerry Jefferson, a Cambridge Avenue resident, told the Village Board Monday that property on both sides of his street often has major flooding.

“When we get a heavy rain, half of my backyard fills,” Jefferson said.

He said his yard never flooded until about three years ago. Trustee Jerry Schmidt visited Jefferson’s property recently and believes that the stormwater sewer line is obstructed by tree roots that have grown into it over time.

Jefferson asked what steps the village will take to alleviate the problem. Village President Dave Anderson said village crews will try to clear the stormwater sewer lines this summer.

Trustee Gordon Dierschow said if public works crews cannot cut the roots out, more drastic measures will be necessary.

“They will have to dig them out—a tree could have to come down, fences will have to be removed,” trustee Dierschow said Monday. “There will have to be heavy restoral.”

During the upcoming annual budget planning process, village officials will consider allocating money for larger sewer pipes where needed, they said.

While televising pipes on the northwest side, public works staff so far have not found any major cracks or collapses in the stormwater and sanitary sewer lines.

“For the most part, the pipes looked like they were in good condition,” Nevenhoven said.

Taking a look
The village of Elburn is using a robotic camera to televise its sewer lines to determine the cause of residential flooding and sewage backups during heavy rainfall. The village has separate sanitary and stormwater sewer systems. Televising has found stormwater pipe blockages, but so far has found no major cracks in the sanitrary sewer lines where stormwater could infiltrate those pipes.

Village administrator will have an assistant

Former administrator appointed to position
by Martha Quetsch
Elburn Village President Dave Anderson created a new staff position to assist new Village Administrator Erin Willrett with her new duties, hiring her predecessor, Dave Morrison, for the job.

Less than three weeks ago, Anderson appointed Willrett, who is several months pregnant, as the village’s top staffer.

“I don’t want to put any undo pressure on her at this time,” Anderson said.

The Village Board unanimously approved Anderson’s appointment of Morrison as assistant village administrator Monday.

As assistant village administrator, Morrison will relieve Willrett of some of her duties on the village committees Anderson established—development, public works, finance and public safety.

When Anderson appointed Willrett May 4, he also named Morrison community development director, a position which Willrett held since 2008. As assistant adminsitrator, Morrison will continue to be responsible for community development too, Anderson said.

“We will continue to work toward making Elburn the best community for everyone,” Morrison said Wednesday.

Anderson appointed former Elburn Police Commander Steve Smith to the position of police chief on May 4 to replace seven-year Chief Jim Linane.

The Village Board will determine the 2009-10 salary for Morrison’s combined position, and for appointees Willrett and Smith, during its annual budget process in the coming weeks.

Their annual wages will be based on the number of years the employees have worked for the village and on their duties, Anderson said. (See related salaries chart below)

Annual salaries for Elburn department heads

Following are the salaries the village paid in 2008-09 to its department heads. Annual wages for 2009-10 department heads will be determined by the Village Board during the budget process, sometime before the end of July.

$113,302: David Morrison, village administrator for nine years (recently replaced by Erin Willrret and named assistant village administrator) supervised five full-time employees, and outside consultants

$93,556: Jim Linane, police chief for seven years (recently replaced by past Commander Steve Smith), oversaw nine full-time and nine part-time employees.

$79,792: Erin Willrett, hired in 2008 as community development director (recently named village administrator), supervised three full-time employees

$78,500: John Nevenhoven, hired in 2008 as public works superintendent (retained) supervises seven full-time public works employees and seasonal workers.

Anderson reinstates board committees

by Martha Quetsch
After former Illinois Supreme Court Justice John Nickels swore in Village President Dave Anderson on Monday, Anderson said he wants to establish a committee structure for the board.

Committees were in place when Anderson was on the Village Board in the 1970s.

The committees will be made up of trustees and staff members who will research and discuss village issues and bring their findings to the board. The Village Board unanimously approved the committees and members Anderson assigned: Finance, chaired by trustee Jeff Walter; Public Works, chaired by trustee Jerry Schmidt; Development, chaired by trustee Ken Anderson; and Public Safety, chaired by trustee Bill Grabarek.

The committees will meet regularly, with dates and times to be announced.

Before the committees can be formally established, the Village Board must approve an ordinance allowing for them. Trustees are expected to vote on the ordinance on Monday, May 18.

Village Board Committees

Trustee Jeff Walter, Chairman
Trustee Bill Grabarek
Trustee Patricia Romke
Village Treasurer Mike Greenen
Village Administrator Erin Willrett

Public Works
Trustee Jerry Schmidt, Chairman
Trustee Gordon Dierschow
Trustee Ken Anderson
Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven
Village Administrator Erin Willrett

Trustee Ken Anderson, Chairman
Trustee Jeff Walter
Trustee Gordon Dierschow
Planning Commissioner Jeff Metcalf
Fire district representative
Community Development Director David Morrison
Village Administrator Erin Willrett

Public Safety
Trustee Bill Grabarek, Chairman
Trustee Patricia Romke
Trustee Jerry Schmidt
Fire district representative
Police Chief Steve Smith
Village Administrator Erin Willrett

Village looks for leaks in sewer system

Trustee suggests using smoke tests
by Martha Quetsch
Elburn public works staff and engineers continue to investigate how stormwater overwhelms the village’s sanitary sewer system during heavy rains.

Public Works Director John Nevenhoven said April 13 the department soon would televise sewer lines on the west side of the village.

“We’re trying to get a handle on what’s going on, what’s getting in,” Nevenhoven said.

Village officials recently decided to do the video inspection of the sewer lines, because heavy rains last September and since then inundated the sewer system, causing some homes to have sewage backups.

Televising can reveal blockages and show cracks, breaks or deterioration of pipes. The process is performed by a robotic camera lowered into a sewer line through a manhole.

The village has separate stormwater and sanitary sewer systems. Nevenhoven said a certain amount of water naturally gets into the sewer system because it is not water tight; but he added that is not the sole source of the problem.

Trustee Jeff Humm suggested the village also conduct smoke tests to determine whether residents have illegal connections that drain stormwater into the sewer system. He said if smoke is directed into the sanitary sewer and it comes out of the gutter, it indicates an illegal connection.

“Its something for the new (village) board to keep in mind,” Humm said.

Anderson asks Elburn department heads to resign

by Martha Quetsch
Elburn’s Village President-elect Dave Anderson said Tuesday he asked the village’s four department heads—the police chief, administrator, public works director and community development director—to resign.

He said he will interview them starting next week with the possibility of re-hiring them.

“I just think that it’s proper, from a procedural and protocol standpoint, for a new administration,” Anderson said. “I want to make sure that appointed officials, myself and the Village Board, are on the same page. For the most part, I think we are.”

Village Attorney Robert Britz said the department heads do not have to resign until Anderson takes office Monday, May 4.

“They do not have an obligation to resign until (Anderson) is sworn in,” Britz said.

Britz said under Illinois law, village presidents appoint department heads annually for one-year positions, with the advice and consent of their village boards. He explained that the timing of the one-year period typically coincides with the fiscal year, which begins in May.

The village hired Police Chief Jim Linane in 2001, Village Administrator David Morrison in 1999, and Public Works Director John Nevenhoven in 2008, and created and filled the Community Development Director position with Erin Willrett in 2008.

After Anderson takes office, he may decide to replace or rehire a department head; but if the Village Board does not agree on the decision, the existing department head may remain in place until the village president and board agree on a replacement.

The village president has the right to choose not to fill a department head position that previously existed.

“The discretion is with him,” Britz said.

Britz said Anderson may conduct employee interviews before he takes office, but may not make any binding decisions for the village.

Elburn village notes

by Martha Quetsch
Officials asked to pay for plow damage
The Elburn Village Board will decide whether to reimburse a resident the cost to repair her vehicle for damage she says was caused by pieces of asphalt flung onto it from a municipal plow, Public Works Director John Nevenhoven told the Village Board on Monday.

Elburn Police Chief Jim Linane said when the plow went by, the resident’s car was parked in the parkway next to her house at the southwest corner of First and Kansas streets. Linane said that type of damage can occur from the normal operation of a snow plow, if a vehicle is parked along the street instead of in a driveway.

Nevenhoven asked the vehicle owner to obtain three estimates for the repairs, but the Village Board has not decided whether to pay the bill.

Nevenhoven said that after he submitted a claim for the vehicle repair cost to the village’s insurance company, the company informed him it would not cover the repair cost. Village Attorney Bob Britz said he will look into the matter of liability and report back to the Village Board.

Public can learn about Bike-to-Metra guide
The village of Elburn will hold a public meeting to obtain comments from residents on its Bike-to-Metra guide. A draft of the guide will be available for public viewing at the meeting, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 21, at Village Hall, 301 E. North St., Elburn.

The guide will contain a map with preferred bicycle routes within a five-mile radius of the Metra station in Elburn, as well as bicycling and railroad safety tips.

The village is developing the guide with help from the League of Illinois Bicyclists to promote biking, especially to the commuter station.

The village will pay for the $4,000 project with a grant it received from the Public Education and Enforcement Research Study that Elburn Police Chief Jim Linane obtained from the Illinois Commerce Commission.

Village makes trash, leaf ordinance more lenient
The Elburn Village Board approved a less restrictive garbage ordinance on March 16, allowing residents to put their trash cans out starting at 3 p.m. Tuesday and bring them in from the curb by 9 a.m. Thursday.

Another change in the ordinance is that residents may place bags of leaves (but not grass) on the parkway at any time during October and November.

The board’s decision voids the ordinance approved in May 2008, allowing garbage and recycling bins and leaf bags to be placed on the parkway no earlier than 6 p.m. on Tuesday and to be removed no later than 11 p.m. on Wednesday.

New ordinance regulates event signs
A new ordinance in Elburn allows people to place a garage sale or open house signs in a parkway without first obtaining consent of the owner of the property along the parkway.

In addition, the ordinance approved March 16 by the Elburn Village Board requires that garage sale and real estate open house signs be placed in the parkway no earlier than the first day of the event and moved immediately after the event ends.

Also under the new ordinance, all such signs also must bear the sign owner’s name, address and telephone number; and, if residents object to signs that are in the parkway along their property, the signs’ owners must remove them.

Village allows team to use fields
The Elburn Village Board recently approved a license agreement with the youth baseball team the Illinois Diamond Owlz for the use of the village-owned Blackberry Creek Subdivision south playing fields in 2009.

The agreement authorized the Owlz to use the fields during its season April 7 through July 19, every weekday evening except Monday, and on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

Under the agreement, the team will pay the village $10 for the season and maintain the two fields during their periods of use. Village officials are considering raising the license fee in the future.

The Owlz are among several youth baseball teams that have agreements with the village for the use of Blackberry Creek playing fields.

Elburn village notes

by Martha Quetsch
Elburn to raise manholes for better sewer-line access
The village of Elburn will raise seven manholes on South Street at a cost of approximately $2,000. The manholes provide access to the sewer line that moves storm water from the area of Route 47 and South Street and from portions of Cambridge subdivision.

The manholes are buried under eight to 24 inches of soil. Raising the manholes to grade level or just above will allow public works staff and contractors to locate them more easily and protect them from possible damage from farm machinery, said Elburn public works superintendent John Nevenhoven.

Stormwater in sewer system necessitates stopgap measure

by Martha Quetsch

Until Elburn replaces three aging wastewater treatment plant pumps this spring, it needs to install a standby pump in case heavy rainfall overwhelms the sewer system, said the village’s new public works superintendent, John Nevenhoven.

The existing pumps, located at the village’s wastewater treatment plant, are not functioning well, Nevenhoven said.

“If we have heavy rains and there is a pump failure, I don’t know if we can keep up with the flow,” Nevenhoven said. “This (the standby pump) would be like an insurance policy.”

Elburn trustees on Monday agreed that the village should buy a standby pump from Metropolitan Pump for $19,985.

Last month, the Village Board ordered three new pumps from Gaskill and Walton Construction Company for $80,400, but will not receive them for a few months.

Nevenhoven said the standby pump can be installed immediately to temporarily replace one of the existing pumps. After the three new permanent pumps are installed, the village could keep the standby to use if one of those ever fails.

The village’s sanitary sewer is separate from the stormwater sewer. However, heavy rainfall in mid-September caused sewage backups in some homes; so public works staff and village engineers since then have been trying to determine how rainwater is infiltrating the sewer system.

Normally, the wastewater treatment plant pumps approximately 700,000 gallons per day. During heavy rain Dec. 27, the flow jumped to 3.4 million gallons, Nevenhoven said.

“If we had lost one of our pumps, we would have had a sewer backup,” Nevenhoven said.

The village replaced one of the wastewater treatment plant’s four pumps earlier this year, paying Mississippi Valley Pump $17,291 for the project.

Elburn deals with economic downturn

Finances in forefront in 2008

by Martha Quetsch

            The community of Elburn showed confidence on some fronts and restraint on others in 2008, reflecting optimism as well as uncertainty about the economy.
Smoking ban effect evident
            A new state law prohibiting smoking in businesses started Jan. 1, leaving some local restaurant and tavern owners wondering what effect it would have on them.

            For Blackberry Inn in Elburn, the smoking ban led to more food sales and less bar business this year.

            “We have had a lot of new customers who wanted to try our food for a long time but didn’t come in before because we were a smoking establishment,” manager Dawn Faber said. “But when the kitchen closes, it’s dead.”
Village, county officials make choices
            Also in January, Elburn trustees hired Erin Willrett as the village’s first community development director, for an annual salary of $73,000.

            “Ms. Willrett will work with developers, business owners and stakeholders to assist in implementing the Village Board’s policies on carefully managed growth,” Village Administrator David Morrison said at the time of the hiring.

            Meantime, the health of the economy was declining, with housing starts dropping, meaning less revenue for Elburn from utilities connection and building fees.

            Nevertheless, in July, the Elburn Village Board approved 4.1-percent pay raises for all village employees and even more for some staff. However, trustees Patricia Romke and Gordon Dierschow voted against the pay hikes because they were more than those received by average people in the private sector this year.

            Citing the same reason, local resident Drew Frasz, right after being appointed to the Kane County Board, voted against a similar pay raise for county employees. Frasz won in the Republican primary against incumbent Jan Carlson, who stepped down after his defeat, leaving his position open. The board appointed Frasz to fill the District 14 position in May.
Recreation spending decisions made
            Using money from its limited recreation fund, the Village built a new tot lot at 215 W. Shannon St. this summer, naming it after after former village police chief and longtime local public servant Wayne Byerhof. The village purchased the Byerhof Park site, formerly a residential lot, two years ago for $165,000. The village spent more than $50,000 on site preparation and playground equipment for the tot lot, the first park on the northwest side of the Elburn.

            During October, the Village Board also tabled a proposal for a skateboard park in Elburn because of its more than $100,000 cost. Trustees said the remaining money in the recreation fund could cover the cost, but the village might need it for other purposes because of expected financial constraints.
Business changes occur
            Bucking the belt-tightening trend, Party Animals expanded its business in downtown Elburn, moving in October to a larger location a couple of doors down to the former Gliddon’s Drug Store location at 116 B. Main St. There, Party Animals offers its children’s celebrations and a new coffee shop.

            The downtown lost two businesses this year, Sears and Emma’s Pub and Cantina. Emma’s gave up its liquor license in May after the Police Department cited the restaurant for illegal gambling. The Sears appliance store at 107 N. Main St., Elburn, closed in October after less than two years in business.

            Four months earlier, a longtime Elburn business changed hands. Ehlers Lawn & Recreation sold its 51-year-old family business to another John Deere dealer, Hogan Walker.

            Despite the economic downturn, Walgreens continued with its plan to build on the northeast corner of Route 38 and Route 47. The store is expected to open this spring.

            Likewise, two planned developments pushed forward, Keslinger Plaza and Elburn Station. Village officials in September approved design plans for the first phase of Keslinger Plaza, a commercial development whose site is at Keslinger Road and Route 47. Elburn Station, a Sho-Deen Inc. development, received Village Board approval of its concept plan in July.

Whistle ban measure approved
            In April, village trustees agreed to pursue the least costly method to silence train whistles in the village in compliance with federal safety regulations. They decided installing wayside horns at the First Street and Route 47 rail crossings were the solution. The wayside horns will cost an estimated $100,000 per crossing, compared to $400,000 for a previous proposal—to install a center barrier of pylons at the First Street crossing, village engineers said.

            “It won’t be a quiet zone, but it will be a better situation than we have now,” village trustee Craig Swan said.
When it rains, it pours
            More economic uncertainty faced the village after unusually heavy rains in September led to sewer system backups in the village. The village is conducting a study of residential sewer systems to determine the cause and potential cost of resolving the situation. 

            The village’s new public works superintendent, John Nevenhoven, will be among village staff members working on the study. Village trustees hired Nevenhoven in September to replace Art Sanchez, whom they asked to retire four months earlier, saying they needed someone more experienced in the position. Nevenhoven was assistant village manager in Huntley from 2004 to 2005. The village is paying Nevenhoven $78,500, compared to Sanchez’ $88,993 final salary.
Hold-ups hit home
            Citing possible financial hardship on the part of the robbers, FBI statistics show that recently, bank hold-ups have risen significantly. An Elburn heist was among several area bank robberies this year in towns including Union, Huntley and Campton Hills.

            Thanks to the FBI, the village of Elburn did not have to bear the entire cost and burden of investigating the bank robbery that happened March 25 at Fifth Third Bank. Elburn police and the FBI are continuing to cooperate in trying to apprehend the “Backpack Bandit.”

            “We are just still waiting for some lab reports. The case is still under investigation,” Elburn Police Chief Jim Linane said Monday. “We’re still making progress, but it’s slow.”