Aldermen discuss proposed treatment plant in Monticello

Aldermen discuss proposed treatment plant in Monticello

MONTICELLO — Superintendent Floyd Allsop clarified that although state statute calls for municipal utilities to be self-sufficient, other funds can supplement a utility's operation if needed.

But he emphasized that it's just "good business" to make sure user fees pay for operations such as the wastewater treatment plant, where council members are considering a new $8.5 million facility.

"You can (supplement utilities from other funds), but city utilities are supposed to be self-funded, and I think it would be silly not to operate a utility in that way," Allsop said.

User fee increases will be needed if the council pulls the trigger on a new plant, but the structure of the new rates is up for discussion. It could be a flat debt service fee, usage rate increases or a combination of both.

"We have a pretty tough decision coming based on who could afford how much, and when we are going to be able to retire the debt," said Alderman Tim Hayes.

The city would likely use a low-interest loan from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to fund construction.

At its May 27 meeting, council members will consider a $491,000 contract with Fehr-Graham and Associates to design a new wastewater treatment plant. The contract would basically provide all the engineering to get the project out to bid.

Fehr-Graham's Mike Buzicky said the project could go out to bid next spring. Once bids are awarded, the construction phase takes 12 to 18 months.

The city would likely build the new plant around the current one, keeping some of the portions of the current facility. Allsop said construction costs are estimated at around $7 million.

In other council news:

— Mayor Chris Corrie said he has been approached by residents interested in starting a community garden in Monticello. A straw poll showed aldermen were in favor of the endeavor, with city staff trying to find an appropriate location in time for the next growing season.

— The city's bicycle path master plan will be up for discussion on May 29 at the Livingston Center. Brian Murphy spoke out in favor of the bike plan at this week's council meeting, saying: "A sizable bike path would increase our quality of life in many ways, and in my opinion increase safety and encourage families to move here."

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