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Local News

Will County Board moves forward on $275M bond issuance

JOLIET — The Will County Board took the next step in financing major building projects.

Board members Thursday authorized the issuance of up to $275 million in bonds — up from $225 million — for a massive capital project initiative that involves the construction of a new courthouse, a northern satellite courthouse, a sheriff's facility on Laraway Road and a health department.

But much has to take place before the county can actually borrow the money. In the coming months, Will County residents have options to weigh in.

Once a public notice is posted March 24, the public has 30 days to file a petition with the Will County Clerk's Office requesting the bond issue be put on the Nov. 8 ballot, according to the ordinance approved Thursday. If no petition is filed within the 30-day window, the bonds will be authorized to be issued.

A public hearing will be held 9:30 a.m. April 21 at the Will County office building, 302 N. Chicago St., Joliet.

To pay back bonds over 25 years, the county plans to pull annually $1.5 million in courthouse fees, $300,000 from parking lot fees, $1 million from landfill fees, $2 million from Public Building Commission sales tax revenue and federal rebate dollars. The city of Joliet is also chipping in $10 million.

Bonds for the new Adult Detention Facility will fully mature in 2028, releasing another $4.7 million.

Will County Board member Cory Singer, R-New Lenox, was the only 'no' vote. Singer has historically voiced opposition to the county's use of road tax dollars to pay back bonds.

Health department loan

In other news, the County Board approved a $3 million loan to the Will County Health Department to cover a budget gap created by the Illinois budget impasse.

Will County Board Speaker Jim Moustis, R-Frankfort, said the Illinois budget stalemate has “reached the point of ridiculousness.”

“You have two sides being very stubborn and getting nothing done for the people,” Moustis said.

I-55/Weber Road project

The County Board also approved a joint agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation for the I-55/Weber Road improvement project.

In that agreement, the County Board agreed Thursday the use of $29 million in RTA funds for construction and design and engineering of its portion of the project.

Will County Highway Engineer Bruce Gould said bid letting is slated for March 2017 with improvements occurring over two construction seasons. The main construction on the $69.2 million project was expected to start this summer, but it has been delayed into 2017.

The roadway project requires the reconstruction of the Interstate 55 interchange with Weber Road to include a new bridge structure. The IDOT will also redeck the existing bridge structure, reconstruct the existing ramps and widen and resurface Weber Road to provide a diverging diamond interchange.

Illinois is the lead agency on the interchange itself. The county is the lead agency on road improvements from Normantown Road to 135th Street.

Will County is seeking “quick take” powers to gain control of land needed to coincide with IDOT's construction timeline for the project.

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