ROCK FALLS – City residents using private wells for drinking water have a little longer to hook up to the city’s water system.
The City Council on Tuesday extended the deadline from April 5 to Oct. 1.
In 2011, when the city decided to make all residents within city limits connect to city water, there were 248 houses that needed to connect by the original deadline. There are now 140 well users still not connected, and 22 homes that have yet to install the stop boxes, the city’s water superintendent, Ted Padilla, said.
Padilla hopes to get back to work in May. If all goes according to plan, he says it takes about 4 hours to get a house connected to the city system.
The process, however, can be costly. If residents don’t have a service box, it costs $500 to get connected. For those who already have the box, it costs $100 to connect. The expensive part is the plumbing work that must be done to connect to the service box. That starts at about $1,100 and can be considerably higher depending on how far the plumbing needs to run on its way to the box.
Residents have the right to do some of the work themselves, but ultimately a plumber must be used.
“It doesn’t require a plumber to dig a trench and get to the pipe, but state statute says you must have a plumber connect to the box and bring the lines into the house,” Mayor Bill Wescott said.
The noncompliant well users have the long, harsh winter to thank for their reprieve.
“We were cut short on time with the winter we’ve had,” Padilla said. “There were years where we could have worked into January or started in March, but Mother Nature didn’t cooperate this year.”
The amended date will be the final connection deadline, Wescott said.
“Letters will be sent out tomorrow [Wednesday] to anybody that is not hooked up,” the mayor said. “Unless there are extreme circumstances, they must be connected by Oct. 1.”
According to city ordinance, those not in compliance by the new deadline can be fined anywhere from $100 to $750. The amount is up to the discretion of those writing the ticket.
“It will probably start out at the lowest number, and continued disregard could bring that amount up to $750,” Wescott said.
The mandate was the result of the cleanup of the Reliant Fastener and Parrish-Alford sites downtown. As part of the Environmental Protection’s remediation process, the agency required that private wells within 1,500 feet of those properties could no longer be used.
The town then extended that directive to everyone within city limits.
In other action Tuesday, the council unanimously approved the fiscal year 2015 budget.
The final version projects revenue of $21,697,459 and expenses of $21,691,751, putting the city $5,708 in the black.
Last year’s budget had a surplus of $3,705.
The city’s enterprise, or utility, funds once again were key to balancing the budget, City Administrator Robbin Blackert said.
“The enterprise funds are now the fourth-highest contributor to our general fund revenues,” Blackert said. “The utilities play a big role in helping to provide financial stability for the city.”
The city’s new fiscal year begins in May.
The Rock Falls City Council next meets at 6:30 p.m. April 15, at City Hall, 603 W. 10th St.
The agendas will be posted at www.rockfalls61071.com and at City Hall. Call 815-622-1100 for more information.
The City Council meeting also can be viewed live on Channel 5.