ELBURN – Homeowners in the village wanting to replace a tree along the street in front of their house can ask the village to cut it down and plant a new one.
The catch, however, is that the homeowner will now have to foot half the cost.
For years, the village of Elburn has paid the full expense of removing and replacing diseased and dying trees that line village streets.
But as the economic recession has placed a strain on village finances, village officials have decided to stretch tax dollars further by asking homeowners to pay 50 percent of the cost for the removal and replacement of the parkway trees.
The Elburn Village Board created the program earlier this summer when it enacted the village's budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year, setting aside $12,000 for the program.
Elburn Village President David Anderson said the program will allow the village to do more with the same amount of money. And that, he said, is more important now than in past years, because of the threat posed to the village's tree canopy by the emerald ash borer, an insect that has ravaged thousands of ash trees throughout the Great Lakes region in the last few years.
"Just like every other community, we planted ash trees all along our streets in the past," David Anderson said. "We've got lots of them that we're going to have to replace."
Ken Anderson, an Elburn village trustee who chairs the village board's community development committee, said village officials are now in the process of establishing criteria and rules to govern the program.
The matter was taken up Monday night during the community development committee's regular meeting.
"Before we'll remove any tree, certain criteria has to be met," Ken Anderson said. "And that's why we're discussing it now."
However, he stressed that the program will be voluntary. To participate in the program, homeowners must apply, Ken Anderson said. Then, village officials would decide whether to include the tree on the village's list of trees eligible for removal under the program.
Homeowners would not be forced into the program.
"We're not going to have a situation where the village decides on its own to cut down a tree and then hands someone a bill," Ken Anderson said.
The cities of St. Charles and Batavia also offer 50/50 tree programs to their residents.