O'Fallon Progress

Letter to the Editor: Potential lease could help low-income residents

To the Editor:

One of the arguments against the lease of the water system has been that rates will go up and low-income residents will not be able to pay their water bills and be forced to move.

Upon doing a little research, I found out that currently the city of O’Fallon has no plan to help low-income residents who cannot pay their water bills. In fact, they refer those residents to local charitable organizations to help them keep their water on if they fall behind in the bills.

At least two of the companies bidding on the lease of the water system actually have programs in place to assist their customers with making affordable payments for their water. Illinois American has a program called “H2O Help to Others” and United Water has a program called “UW Cares.” I think that it is important to share this information with voters because if a private company does end up operating our water system, there actually could be more support for low-income residents or residents who suddenly find themselves out of work and need temporary help that what exists today.

The referendum on the ballot asks “should the city consider a lease and not a sale” of the water system. The city should consider it and when they are reviewing the final proposals they need to consider how these companies currently help residents in need, which appears to be more than what our city owned and operated system does.

I encourage residents to vote Yes on April 7.

Mary Thurman