Colchester is looking for grants to help pay for sewer system upgrades that would bring it into compliance with federal EPA standards.
That cost is about $4 million.
John Calise, an engineer with Benton and Associates, told the city council it could get $1.1 million from the USDA's Rural Development program.
Mayor Danny Bice says the city needs to find grant funding to pay at least half the project cost to keep sewer rates from skyrocketing.
He says, “We're looking at having to raise everybody's bill $25 to $30 a month and that's not feasible. People can't afford it here in town.”
The city is exploring grants and financing through the Illinois EPA.
It's also seeking a ten-year window from the federal EPA to complete the project. Bice says the extension would reduce the financial burden on the city. It would also allow the work to be done in stages
The agency has requested information on the city's financial condition before it rules on the request.
The city council has approved an additional $7,500 for Benton and Associates to continue its role as an intermediary with the federal EPA, Illinois EPA and USDA on the project. The city has already paid $15,000 for the firm's work on the project. The firm expects to complete the project design work in September.
The EPA recently cited the city for 28 violations.