O'Fallon Progress

Letter to the Editor: Back to the basics

To the Editor:

A lot of “facts” and figures have been given as O’Fallon considers the lease of our water and sewer system. Some have even speculated how much someone’s property taxes might increase IF certain projects were given approval and IF they were to be paid for in property taxes.

Let’s return to the basics. Next to air, water is our most basic human need and needs to be safely delivered to our homes. Yes, we do buy our water from Illinois American Water but our city is responsible for the system that delivers it.

While it’s not glamorous like some of the amenities that are being proposed, it’s essential to the quality of our city. Our city has done an excellent job of maintaining it.

Now some are suggesting that we lease it to a mega-corporation so that we can get $50,000,000+ to fund other projects that were brainstormed by 150 citizens in May 2013. While these are all nice ideas, is it important to note that leasing our water system to pay for them is a risky proposition.

Experience shows that many cities who have given over control of their water have had serious problems including an increase in water main breaks and slow repairs. The experience has been so bad that many cities have paid millions of dollars to break their contracts and regain control—at least that has been the case for cities who could afford to do that.

Our Mayor has been heard to say, “For every city with a bad experience of letting a private company operate its water system, there is a another city with a good experience.” Assuming that he’s right, a one in two chance of having a bad experience isn’t worth the risk. Vote NO twice April 7.

Jennifer Vogt