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Engineers: Water, sewer rate hikes needed

Increases needed to pay for new wastewater plant, other improvements

MORRISON – Engineers are recommending the city increase water and sewer rates the next few years to help pay for improvements to those systems.

The city's improvements at one well house will cost about $234,000, which could lead to an increase in water rates by $10 a month per customer, Chris Buckley, project manager with Baxter & Woodman engineering firm working on the water and wastewater projects, told the City Council Monday.

The new wastewater treatment plant, estimated to cost about $20 million, could increase sewer rates by $14.32 a month per user. For operations and maintenance, customers will have to pay $24.01 a month for water and $26.19 a month for wastewater, Buckley said.

When the sewer treatment plant is complete in 4 to 5 years, residents who use 5,000 gallons of water a month will have to pay about $133 a month for garbage, sewer and water services, Buckley said.

His firm is suggesting the city increase rates now to prepare for the expenses. The additional revenue will be needed to help pay off a 20-year low-interest loan from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for the wastewater plant, Buckley said.

Residents now pay a base of $9.11 a month for water, plus $6.60 for every 1,000 gallons used; they pay $10.65 a month for sewer plus $5.83 for every 1,000 gallons used. They also pay $11.60 a month for garbage collection, which is not expected to increase.

Resident Jerry Stuart, 51, said he pays about $70 to $90 a month for the three utilities, and Morrison's water rates already are "ridiculous."

"The thing I don't like is that they're going to increase our rates again," he said. "They already did that a few years ago.

"I think we spent enough money these last several years that they should already have money saved up for that project," he said. "I thought that was what it was for, for infrastructure to do this project. The way it sounds, it sounds like they don't have any money for it."

Also Monday, the council voted 8-0 to extend its contract with D.J. Sickley Construction Co. Inc. for 34 more days to work on the water system. The Peru-based company needed the additional time to abandon service to a well. The work is now expected to be done by July 3. The extension does not increase the money the city will pay.

The council also voted 7-0 to allow newly elected alderman David Helms to continue to mow grass for the city for up to $2,000 a year. Helms abstained from the vote.

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