Carbondale City Council to consider privatizing the city's water service - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Carbondale City Council to consider privatizing the city's water service

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By Carly O'Keefe

Carbondale, IL (KFVS) - There's more budget controversy in Carbondale, this time over the city's water.

Mayor Brad Cole recommends the city privatize its water and sewer services by selling the city's treatment plants to a private company.

A City of Carbondale memo explains the sale would earn the city an estimated one-time payment of $42-million. The proceeds would definitely help fill the gaps in a two-year projected $5 million budget shortfall. However, some fear selling the city's water could result in a permanent increase in monthly bills in exchange for a short-term fix to the city's financial crisis.

"Who knows how long this crisis will last? And even if it is a long-term crisis, to sell off our water, which is so fundamental to the lives of the people who live here, the possibilities of economic development within the city, and our entire future; it just seems fundamentally wrong headed," said Carbondale resident Jane Adams.

City Manager Allen Gill says this is just one of many proposals put before the Carbondale City Council for consideration. Gill recommended the council instead reinstate the city's property tax levy that has been abated for the past seven years.

Gill tells Heartland News the city did not collect property taxes during that time because it had enough revenue coming in from other sources to make up the difference. But now that times are tough, Gill suggests putting that property tax levy back in place.

The deadline for reinstating the property tax levy is the January 1, 2010, but no decisions will be made about the property tax or sale of the city's water service until the council's December 15 meeting.

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