Peoria City Council approves plans for new sewer rates & land bank

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — City leaders are taking the first step in helping pay for the city’s $109 million Combined Sewage Overflow project as a part of its consent decree with the federal government.

During its Tuesday night meeting, the council unanimously voted to approve establishing the Peoria Combined Sewer Remediation District and voted 9-1 to set rates for a new Combined Sewer Overflow fee.

Patrick Urich, city manager, said establishing the new CSO fee would be the city’s way of paying for the mandated combined sewage overflow project. The fee would go towards low-interest loans that the city would use to fund the first few years of the project.

Urich said the CSO fee would go into effect in 2023.

However, he said since the city already has two existing sewer fees in place, Rehabilitation and Lateral, the city would lower the current Rehabilitation fee to decrease the financial impact the new CSO fee would have on taxpayers.

He said for the first four years, until 2026, the Combined Sewer Overflow and Rehabilitation rate should remain the same, but the Lateral sewer rate would grow about $2 per year starting in 2022.

Proposed CSO Sewer Rates
YearProposed CSO rates per CCF*Proposed City Rehabilitation  Rate per CCF*Avg Quarterly Residential Customer Bill Increase per quarter (3 mo.)**Avg Annual Residential Customer Bill Increase
     
2022$0.000$1.366$0.00$0.00
2023$0.080$1.286$0.00$0.00
2024$0.150$1.216$0.00$0.00
2025$0.230$1.136$0.00$0.00
2026$0.300$1.066$0.00$0.00
     
* CCF= 100 cubic feet of water
     
** An Average (3 person) residential household uses 17.25 CCF per 3 mo. quarter.
Customers are billed once per quarter, based on water usage.
Currently, a typical residential customers’s sewer bill is $66-72 per quarter.

Denis Cyr, fifth district council member, was the sole ‘no’ vote saying he didn’t like how the council has just one model in front of them “with no discussion whatsoever on how we could possibly have found other ways to fund $109 million in capital improvement.”

Now that the proposal has been passed, Urich said the next step is to put in their final loan application in front of the Illinois EPA.

In another 9-1 vote council also adopted an ordinance to establish a land bank.

Joe Dulin, Peoria’s Assistant Community Development Director, said the land bank would be a tool/strategy for the city to address vacant and abandoned properties with the goal of returning them to productive uses.

This is possible through grant funds from the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA).

Denise Jackson, First District Councilwoman, said she’s excited about it and wants to make sure those directly affected will have some input.

“I am in favor of it but we have to make sure that it’s not just another land bank,” Jackson said. “They can be very successful if the folks by them are heard and at the table.”

At-large councilman John Kelly voted against the proposal saying he doesn’t believe a land bank is needed to address the issues.

‘”I’m not against what this is supposed to be doing, but we can already do it,” Kelly said. “But if we want to get the state money in here we have to create a big new bureaucracy to do what we can already do.”

At-large councilwoman Beth Jensen countered saying the program would not create a big bureaucracy but instead would add one new staff person full-time and two part-time people.

“We would be able to do things that we can’t currently do and once it’s in place, hopefully in the future, we can do a lot more things,” Jensen said.

The land bank will have several staff positions, including a land manager, legal department staff, and a community service inspector. A land bank board will also be created with several members, including the city manager, council members, a representative from the real estate community, and neighborhood representatives.

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