Stormwater upgrades and new revenues in Northbrook’s future
Northbrook Village President Sandy Frum was the keynote speaker at Monday's Chamber of Commerce and Industry legislative luncheon held at Pinstripes. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 7, 2013 6:49AM
NORTHBROOK — Northbrook will continue to have a healthy future despite challenges, according to community leaders taking the pulse of the village.
President Sandy Frum on Monday presented a state of the village message at Pinstripes to members of the Northbrook Chamber of Commerce and Industry updating major issues and reflecting on future challenges and opportunities.
She also reviewed some of the past year’s major accomplishments, including the completion of the village’s downtown study and the master storm water management plan, as well as establishing a storm water utility fund.
“The storm water utility fund is $1 per 1,000 gallons of water, which will be used to pay for the storm water projects. We have about 20 of them on the books, costing about $20 million,” Frum said.
“We did look at asking for a fee depending on the amount of pervious pavement a property has, but that really slammed businesses. This is a better distribution to produce revenues and the money can only be used for storm water management, not anything else.”
The pipes now running under Techny Road will hold one million gallons of water, as part of the storm water detention plan. And the village has authorized a study to determine if it’s practical to also create a major storm water basin behind the village hall and library, she added.
“We need more detention for our downtown to increase development and this might be a way of creating it. If the study shows that it will not provide the detention we need, we won’t do it,” Frum said.
Also, Com Ed now has rewired the downtown area so that three feed lines coming from different directions handle it. If one goes out, the next one should take over, although that doesn’t mean there won’t be any power failures, she added.
“And electrical aggregation, which came on at the same time as the heat wave, saved our residents a total of $600,000 on their electric bills just in June and July,” Frum said.
She also noted that a telecommunications tax will go into effect Jan. 1 to fund the village’s dispatch centers. The tax, which is exactly the same as surrounding communities, is six percent.
However, Frum also noted that there are new businesses at Northbrook Court, downtown and Willow Festival, as well as along Dundee Road, to help shore up the village’s economy.
A new development at Dundee and Skokie will feature a 10-story apartment building and a Mariano’s Fresh Market. And a possible Walmart store may go up on Skokie Boulevard south of Dundee Road, although representatives have not yet presented a formal proposal.
“Sales tax – our principle revenue source – is now at pre-recession levels. In our community at least, the economy continues to advance. We refinanced bonds and had such a good rate it will save us $2 million during the next nine years,” Frum said.
“Moodys and Standard & Poor’s reaffirmed our triple A bond rating, because of our financial management, our strong fiscal position and overall debt burden as a percentage of market value.”
Next year, Frum is looking forward to dealing with fiscal realities and major developments, as well as further implementing the storm water master plan and road improvements.
“Northbrook is very fortunate to have a stable business climate with many economic statistics showing steady signs of growth, specifically sales activity. Anecdotally, we are hearing positive news from our members across various business sectors,” said Tensley Garris, president of the Northbrook Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
“However, many small business owners are still struggling and all are grappling with uncertainty, particularly related to federal and state regulations.”