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Wheels in motion to fund sanitary sewer project

Council will look at ordinance for $969,579 IEPA loan to cover costs

ROCK FALLS – The city is moving ahead with its plans to borrow money from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to pay for a costly sanitary sewer project.

An ordinance that would authorize the city to borrow $969,579 from the EPA’s Water Pollution Control Loan Program will get a first read at today’s City Council meeting.

The council already awarded a contract for the work to Chesterfield, Missouri-based Insituform Technologies USA at its Oct. 2 meeting, but the action was contingent on the city receiving the EPA loan.

The winning bid was for $819,260, but the loan also would cover other project expenses such as engineering and legal costs.

The work area will run along Leroy Avenue and West First Street, from just east of the high school to First Avenue, and along Eighth Avenue from Leroy to West Fifth Street. The sanitary sewer pipe will be cleaned and lined and manholes will be reinforced to prevent a sewer collapse in the area.

The area is near the site where a sewer partially collapsed 3 years ago, along West First Street near First Avenue. A water main was hit while workers were digging to get to the sewer line, causing water to fill a 20-foot-deep sinkhole.

Part of the problem was addressed at the time by doing some slip lining of the sanitary sewer main.

“When we fixed the sinkhole, we just did enough to fix the immediate problem because we knew we were going to go after an EPA loan for the bigger project,” City Administrator Robbin Blackert said.

If the city gets the loan, it would be repaid with sewer department money. The project already has been factored into sewer bill increases that will be put in place for 2019 through 2022. The council approved the sewer and water hikes on March 20.

The increases are higher for sewer than water. The water hikes would total 4.85 percent over the 4-year period, while sewer would be up 8.93 percent in the first year alone. The sewer increases would then level off at about 3.9 percent each of the next 3 years.

Combined, the utility rate increases, on average, are estimated to cost the typical residential user $35 a year more.

Stanley has submitted the IEPA grant application, but the city isn’t sure when a decision will be made. The city would have 20 years to pay off the loan at an interest rate of 1.84 percent.

The council also will be asked to approve the city’s final audit for fiscal year 2018, which ended April 30, and the low bid for the demolition of two buildings. Local contractor, Furr Excavating, is the low bidder for the planned demolitions at 241 Avenue F and 711 Ninth Ave.

Next meeting

The Rock Falls City Council next meets at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 603 W. 10th St.

The agendas will be posted at and at City Hall. Call 815-622-1100 for more information.

The council meeting also airs live on Channel 5.

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