O'Fallon residents may see between 10 and 25 percent savings in their home energy costs as early as February, stemming from voters' approval allowing the city to bargain on their behalf for electricity.
Aldermen took the first steps toward creating the city's electrical aggregation program on Monday when they unanimously gave initial approval to appoint Finance Director Dean Rich to select the lowest power rate from the bids of electrical companies. Final approval of the appointment will likely be considered during the next City Council meeting on Dec. 3, following a public hearing on the issue.
Voters approved the related binding referendum on Nov. 6 by a margin of 59 percent to 41 percent, with 7,438 voting in favor and 5,102 voting against. Homeowners are anticipated to see savings of about $160 per year.
"In the short range, homeowners will get some discount this year and next year," Rich said. "If we get this done by December 11, February bills could reflect somewhere between 10 and 25 percent reduction. That could save homeowners $100 to $200 over a year, which is not to be sneezed at, times 11,000 homeowners."
Residents are automatically enrolled in the program, but may choose to opt-out at any time.
In other news:
* Veteran Alderman Dennis Renner of Ward 5 has given his last signature "Good night and God bless" to O'Fallon residents at the close of council meetings. Renner, 62, will soon resign his aldermanic post in order to accept a seat he won in the Nov. 6 general election representing District 23 on the St. Clair County Board.
He has been on the council since 2001, and previously served for 20 years as a school board member in Central School District No. 104.
* The council approved a 3-year contract with 2.5 percent and 3 percent wage increases with the local chapter of the Laborers International Union of America, AFL-CIO. The current contract mirrors wage increases given to members of other unions, such as the Fraternal Order of Police.
The previous contract expired in April 2011. About 30 city employees are members of the laborers' union working within the city's streets, parks, water and sewer departments.
* Aldermen approved a plan from St. Clare School to demolish two homes next to the school in order to construct a 29-space parking lot. The homes slated for demolition are located at 209 and 213 W. Second Street.
The school is currently building a 16,400-square-foot addition to its school on West Third Streeet. Once plans are complete, the school site will occupy more than 80 percent of the city block.