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Local

Sewer plant on hold for a year in Morrison

Council votes to take advantage of new loan rules

MORRISON – A unanimous City Council has agreed to delay construction of a new sewer plant for a year to take advantage of new rules governing the loan process that could greatly reduce the city’s annual payments.

The council made the decision at a special meeting Monday.

The new plant, to be built on the west side of state Route 78, just south of the Morrison Institute of Technology, is needed to meet environmental regulations.

The bulk of its estimated $23 million price tag will be paid for with a federally funded loan administered by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. Residents also are paying higher sewer rates to help fund the project.

If the decision pushes the timeline a year exactly, then, presumably, construction could begin in spring 2016 and finish by mid-2017. That will depend, though, on the timing of grants, loans and any other financing options the city may seek, as well as how contract bidding proceeds.

New legislation will change rules on the EPA’s water pollution control loan program, effective in 2015.

Among the major changes: Municipal borrowers, such as the city of Morrison, will be able to spread loan payments over 30 years, rather than the current 20-year term, which would reduce the city’s annual payment.

The new program also is expected to include some form of principal forgiveness, which also could save the city money, and perhaps even bring a reduction in the sewer rate hikes, Mayor Edward Pannier has said.

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