The Hancock County Economic Development Committee will host a county economic summit March 29th. It hopes the summit will be the first step to reduce decades-long trends of job, business and population losses.
Committee Chairman Jerry Bartell said the county was home to about 30,000 people at the beginning of the 20th century. He said the county population is down to about 19,000 people.
He said, “But another alarming figure that got my attention was the fact that we lost 20% of our sales tax-paying businesses since 2000.”
Galesburg Mayor Sal Garza said the city is developing a strategy to avoid the same pension system headaches plaguing the state.
Illinois has billions of dollars in unfunded pension liabilities. While Galesburg's obligations are nowhere near those amounts, Garza is concerned that the police and fire pension systems are receiving less than 60% of what they should be getting from the city.
The city's IMRF (Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund) is at 90%, and Garza would like to bring the police and fire systems up to that level.
Colchester will have to make repairs to sanitary sewer lines in the southwest part of the city and repairs at storage lagoons to make sure it meets IEPA regulations.
Leaky sewer lines allow an influx of storm water and ground water into the sewer system. The extra water and waste overloads the system.
Engineer John Calise, of Benton and Associates, said, “Not only do we have some problems locally with basement back ups and some of the transportation of the wastewater out to the lagoons. But the lagoons themselves are also overloaded with regards to too much wastewater.”