O'Fallon Progress

Choice Voice

Needing a place to voice an opinion on the water-sewer situation in O’Fallon:

Since the city of O’Fallon page has blocked opposition comments and the pro lease page for the sell of the water has blocked opposition comments. I guess I will try here...

Must be hiding something if you don’t want facts

O’Fallon buys water from Illinois American. Did you know O’Fallon is also treating it when it arrives? Did you know O’Fallon also handles all testing?

Here is a fact—Food & Water Watch reported on the various problems experienced by Urbana, Ill., residents after their water system was sold to American Water in 2003. The problems included “boil-water notices, instructing customers to boil their water before use because the treatment system had temporarily failed. Customers complained of declining service when American Water centralized its customer service call center. Fire hydrants malfunctioned; a fire destroyed a maintenance building after two hydrants failed.” (34)

In addition to poor service, Urbana residents saw their rates jump significantly. A household using 5,000 gallons a month paid $421, while a household using 5,000 gallons a month in an average municipality with public water administration only paid $241. (35)

Now let’s talk about operating efficiencies. Do you know what was said regarding the current operation of the water? I believe the companies commented on that?

Now I also read that a “fabulous sports park” could be completed. Do you know that the Mayor’s initial presentation said he would use the funds for the sports park? The plans for completion of that park are between $40-50 million; I like the park but not at the expense of the water privatization. I would have a lot of money if I sold my home, but no place to live. Sometimes a short windfall does not make sense for the long term. How about before worrying about it being completed, the mayor figures out how to get the elderly and disabled to the ball diamonds. Since the parking is so far away I have regularly heard people unable to walk that distance.

Now lets look at transparency within the process, not even the counsel can agree they have all of the information. At the Feb. 2 meeting the mayor was asked if they had a short list. He said no. Less than a week later three companies were set up to come through. How pretty impressive three large companies were able to coordinate all of that in less than a week. The Mayor also stated no money has been paid, the RFP guarantees the consulting company no more than $25,000 and since that is the magic number that the Mayor does not need approved I guess we will never know.

Now let’s discuss the $80 million in infrastructure upgrades the opposition has referenced. These are a result of 15+ years of neglect. It sounds to me as though when we were utilizing funds creating one of the 16 parks in O’Fallon—mainly the Sports Park—we should have been upgrading vital infrastructure. Or when we were funding the Conference Center we should have been using those funds to upgrade infrastructure.

Now many may say these were built to bring business to the community, but at what cost? I have always been a person who believes leisure is done with profits, not funds that are needed in other areas. Now the bond rating has dropped for the city due to the outstanding bonds on the Sports Park and Conference Center—those available bonds could have been used for infrastructure upgrades. Now what about the Ameren Utility tax?

This tax was put on all of the citizens to fund the new police station. Ince the station is paid for where does this tax go? Yes, the small print says this tax income will go to the park. Again this could be used for infrastructure upgrades.

Heather Henry DeVine