City of Villa Grove, Illinois
April 1, 2003
U.S. Senator James M. Inhofe
Chairman, Committee on Environment and Public Works
Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3603
RE: Proposed public works project for Villa Grove
Honorable Senator Inhofe:
Per our prior request and direction from Illinois Senator Peter Fitzgerald’s office, I am writing to ask for your support in a grant to our community for extensive repairs to the streets of our City.
The City of Villa Grove is a small community in East Central Illinois, covering approximately five square miles and with a population of 2,553. A large number of our residents commute approximately 20 miles north to Champaign/Urbana, where the University of Illinois is located. We have the advantage of being a rural, friendly community with good schools, recreation and small businesses, while still having access to “city life” with a short drive.
Our City has suffered the effects of the State of Illinois=s significant budget cuts, coming just after an approximate 6.6% loss of population in the 2000 census. Last year alone the City of Villa Grove lost nearly 15% of revenues compared to the preceding year. Adding the “bedroom” community effect to that equation means a continued loss of retail sales tax revenue as residents can make purchases from big name stores while in Champaign rather than from local businesses who cannot compete-we’ve recently lost several businesses including a hardware store and the City’s only pharmacy. Many others, including our schools, have made cuts in both products and labor forces. Unfortunately, we feel certain that the immediate future holds more losses for us, at least until the economy begins an upward trend.
We have a number of worthwhile projects that were and continue to be cost-prohibitive, such as drainage issues and the need to replace our Community Building that has sustained continuous damage from floods. Currently, the City has approximately 2.5 to 3 miles of paved streets in need of significant repair or replacement. These roadways date back to the 1920s, and are broken and being washed out below the concrete surface. Our current rough cost estimate to remove, fill and lay new asphalt and raise necessary manholes would be around $350,000-400,000. This type of work would be normally be eligible for Motor Fuel Tax funds, but those revenues have declined as well due to the population loss. It is all we can do at this point to keep up financially with “band-aids”-short-term repairs to keep the roads usable.
With revenues down and belts being tightened, any help you can provide in your role as Chairman of the Public Works Committee would be sincerely appreciated. I look forward to hearing from you, in the hopes that together we can turn this project from a “someday” proposal into a factual accomplishment.
Ronald H. Hunt