Colchester residents might soon see a new charge on their sewer bills. It could be just the first of several.
The city council has given first reading to proposed ordinance to add the $4 monthly fee. The city needs the money because the Illinois EPA is requiring the city to update its sewer and water treatment systems.
Mayor Danny Bice said the city has little choice but to raise more money. The city is looking for financing from federal and state agencies.
He said, “We borrow from the USDA. They're going to set the payment, you know, what you're going to charge your customers. We figured we'd try to do it in small increments. We might have to do another one next year. We might have to do one the year after.”
The project's estimated cost is between $2 and $4 million. The city is not raising rates right now.
Bice said the city's engineering firm is looking at grant opportunities to reduce the amount of money the city will have to borrow.
The city will send letters to residents to explain the city's situation and the need for the surcharge.
If the city council passes the ordinance at next month's meeting, the surcharge would take effect June 1st. Bice said the city wants to give residents plenty of time to prepare.
Bice said the city is also preparing a response to 28 alleged violations cited by the federal EPA. The EPA originally told the city to comply within 60 days. The city is trying to get the EPA to remove the deadline as the sewer and water treatment system upgrades are expected to solve the water quality problems.