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Government Local

Lauzen talks Longmeadow Parkway bridge at state of the counties event

SANDWICH – Drivers who plan to cross the proposed Longmeadow Parkway bridge over the Fox River in northern Kane County can expect to pay tolls, but Kane County officials say that will be temporary.

Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen said the toll bridge will be placed in two or three years and will generate between $50 million and $70 million of the project's estimated $125 million cost.

Lauzen gave an update of the construction plan Thursday to attendees of Metro West Council of Government's State of the Counties Luncheon at Best Western Timber Creek Inn and Suites, 2200 Drew Ave., Sandwich. The council includes members from Kane, Kendall and DeKalb counties. All three respective county board chairmen spoke at the event.

Lauzen cited Winnebago County's success in keeping a temporary tollway until last April, saying the intention is to do the same thing with the Longmeadow Parkway toll bridge.

"I don't think I'll have the time span in my life to fulfill that," Lauzen said. "Without that [money], we could not have a roadway."

Chairmen gave brief presentations of the current conditions in their counties. Lauzen's presentation included a briefing on the challenges government officials face in the state, which include high property taxes.

"Nobody knows better than the people in this room what a challenging context it is to serve in the state of Illinois," Lauzen said.

Some residents have left Illinois to move to other states, such as Indiana. Lauzen took pride in Kane County's efforts of freezing the property tax levy for three years in a row. Property tax levies are calculated when multiplying the assessed value and the rate.

Kane County officials are working on a budget to see if they can freeze the property tax levy for a fourth or fifth year. In order to help do that, Lauzen talked about the county's five-year horizon plan for finances, operating funds and capital planning.

The horizon plan looks at long-term financing planning and how to prepare for another possible economic downturn without using tax bills, said Terry Hunt, Kane County auditor.

Lauzen said the biggest issue the county is currently facing is to continue to have good relationships among other county officials. He mentioned an incident two years ago when two elected officials sued each other, costing $350,000.

Lauzen told the crowd about a business plan drafted by Alan Mulally, chief executive officer of Ford Motor Company.

"Stop fighting, tell the truth, agree on one set of numbers and be accountable for your actions," Lauzen said. "That's what we're trying to do in Kane County."

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