Aqua Illinois officials offer reassurance about bill problems

Aqua Illinois officials offer reassurance about bill problems

DANVILLE – Changes in Aqua Illinois' billing system continue to cause problems, but officials said the issues are slowly being resolved.

"We're closer today than a month ago," said Thomas Bruns, vice president and regional manager of Aqua Illinois and Aqua Indiana.

"The residential problems – a number of them are getting smaller and smaller," Bruns said.

The problems began earlier this year when the company switched from a 25-year-old computer system to a new one. The 18,000 customers began receiving bills late – sometimes up to two months late. Some customers also complained that their bills were inaccurate.

The company is to blame, said Tim Cahill, manager of Aqua Illinois' Danville office.

"It's all the company's fault the bills aren't coming out correctly," Cahill said.

The problems have caused city officials to reconsider the contract with Aqua Illinois.

The city pays Aqua Illinois an estimated $287,000 a year to oversee the billing, collections and customer service calls for the city's sewer and trash accounts – about 12,400 sanitary sewer customers and 11,000 garbage customers.

City administrators are evaluating the cost of handling the billing itself.

"When we do so in-house, we can control and resolve any problems that occur," Mayor Scott Eisenhauer said. "Right now, we are not in position to resolve issues regarding sewer and garbage collection."

The city, however, may face the same issues if it does take the billing over, Bruns said.

"The city would have to acquire its own billing system and go through another transition period," he said.

Cahill said, though, in the meantime, customers are welcome to visit Aqua Illinois' Gilbert Street location if they need further explanation.

"It takes time to get things back to normal," Cahill said. "We still think there's going to be bumps in the road."

Plans for tower revived

Aqua Illinois has restarted plans to build a $1.9 million water tower just outside the Denvale area.

Thomas Bruns, vice president and regional manager of Aqua Illinois and Aqua Indiana, said the company is working with a water tank designer to build the million-gallon water tower.

Earlier this year, neighbors of the area complained that the proposed water tower's current site would thwart development, and challenged the special-use permit issued to the water company in 1989.

Aqua Illinois owns an acre of land along the north side of Old Ottawa Road a quarter-mile west of Denvale West, just outside the city limits.

Two residents – Tim Busby and Dean Carlton – offered to swap the company's existing site for one less conspicuous.

The company, however, has chosen to build on its existing site, saying the proposed alternative would increase construction costs by $100,000 to $200,000.

"We believe the existing location is probably the one that works best," Bruns said.

Bruns said the water tank could be up by November 2008.

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