To the Editor:
I recently read about Governor Rauner’s proposed budget cuts to local governments in his plan to restore financial stability to the state of Illinois that was destroyed by former Governor’s Blagojevich and Quinn and the Democrat led union controlled legislature.
These will be difficult cuts for cities like O’Fallon to sustain and it will most likely lead to cuts in services or increased property taxes. This is a very important factor in my decision to vote YES on the upcoming referendum to urge the city to consider a lease of the water system.
The city has proposed at public hearings that property taxes could be increased as much as $395 a year on a house worth $150,000 or our sales tax could increase 25 percent in order to pay for needed infrastructure improvements on Green Mount Road and the older parts of town that have storm water drainage issues. The opponents to this plan state they are concerned about water rates going up if a lease is considered.
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Are they concerned about taxes going up? They never mention that O’Fallon’s water rates have increased 42 percent more than other local cities like Belleville, which had a four year average of 3.68 percent compared to O’Fallon’s increases of 5.21 percent. Belleville is owned by a private operator which is the same private operator that O’Fallon purchases its water from and then pumps into our homes.
If a lease of the operations can bring the minimum $50 million city officials state it could, I believe we should consider a lease. The city already voted not to sell the water system. A lease lets the city retain control over water quality, water rates and service. And it even requires the private company to hire the current employees to retain all the knowledge of the workers.
So nothing changes except, we find a new non-tax revenue stream to support our city services. In light of what is about to happen in Springfield, I think this is a really good thing to consider. I encourage everyone to vote YES on April 7.