Farmers Insurance has abandoned its plan to hit taxpayers for reimbursement for claims it paid as a result of the April 2013 flooding. The insurance company voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit it filed against over 200 units of local government including the City of Northlake. It was not only a good legal decision, as it would have been extremely difficult to prove its claim, but also a good financial decision, because if they had been successful, the burden would have fallen on their own customers, who as property tax payers, would have been in effect  paying Farmers twice; once for their insurance premiums, and then a second time to reimburse Farmers for claims paid under those very same policies.

The City of Northlake will continue to work on controlling flooding as outlined last month. Changes in weather patterns causing extreme events such as super rain storms, super snow storms and extremes in temperatures have made this task more challenging. Hopefully, State and Federal priorities will be adjusted to help local governments with this task.

On another note, the extreme winter was not kind to the bridge on Palmer Avenue over the creek, causing the pavement to breakdown to the point where rebar was exposed. Repairs to this bridge should be completed by the time this article appears in print. Speaking of bridges, there are plans to replace the Prater Avenue Bridge in 2015 and the Roy Avenue Bridge in 2016. Both bridges will be 50 years old next year and have not had a significant overhaul in that time. The work will consist of replacing the entire bridge deck on both bridges. Fortunately, the abutments, or supports, on each side are in good condition and can be kept which will reduce costs significantly.  The cost for the bridge replacement is approximately $580,000 each. The City has arranged for grant funding to cover 80% of this cost. As you can see, maintaining existing infrastructure has serious financial implications.

The City will be undertaking some limited street resurfacing. We have been able to secure approximately $450,000 under the State’s capital program and additional one time increases to the Motor Fuel Tax Fund. Once the release of these funds is approved, work will start on the area’s most in need. $450,000 may seem like a lot money, and it is, but in terms of street resurfacing, the cost is about $100,000 for every 900 feet of street, so we should be able to resurface a little less than 1 mile of streets this year.

The City has about 47miles of streets, so if you do the math, you will understand the magnitude of maintaining our streets. Our goal is to approach this task in a reasonable manner without placing an undue financial burden on our residents.