To the Editor:
On April 7, voters will have the opportunity to have their voice heard by voting YES twice on the upcoming referendums that ask if the city of O’Fallon should consider a lease of the operations of the water system.
There has been a great deal of talk about why the city should consider a lease. There is an old saying—Liars can figure, but figures don’t lie. So let’s take a look at the figures: The city has spent over two years creating the strategic plan to make sure O’Fallon is prepared for the growth expected to come over the next decade, when it is projected over 40,000 residents will be living in our town.
This plan has been laid out in detail and includes the following projects: Green Mount Road Expansion ($4.5 million), Mine Remediation of the new St. Elizabeth’s Medical Complex ($7.7 million), Exit 16 at Interstate 64 Intersection Improvements ($975,000), Ashland Avenue Extension ($5.6 million), Shiloh Valley Township Road Reconstruction ($4.9 million), Rieder Road Sanitary Sewer Extension ($1.8 million), Wastewater Treatment Plant Expansion ($26.5 million), Family Sports Park Master Plan Completion ($28 million) and downtown revitalization ($375,000).
You add all the figures together and it totals over $80 million.
City leaders have also laid out several ways to pay for these projects, which include:
• Raise property taxes by $395 a year on a house worth $150,000 or more, which would generate $4.9 million a year. If this option occurs, it would take over 16 years to raise $80 million.
• Raise sales taxes by 25 percent which would add 1/2 cent to our sales tax generating $1.8 million a year, taking over 44 years to raise $80 million.
• Lease the operations of the water and sewer system, which would generate a minimum of $50 million that could be paid out immediately to pay for the infrastructure improvements. The amount could be more, but we are still waiting to get the final proposals in from three different companies to see how much more.
If you just look at the figures—the answer is pretty clear—the city should consider leasing the operations of the water system. A lease would mean the city retains ownership of the water system. The city will control the rates and water quality. Essentially nothing changes, except new management. Most importantly, a lease could generate millions without a need for a tax increase of any kind.
A YES vote on April 7 means that you want the city to CONSIDER a lease.