IL city agrees on tentative sale of water system - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

IL city agrees on tentative sale of water system

(Source: AP Images) (Source: AP Images)

Illinois American Water and the city of Mount Vernon announced on Tuesday, February 3 they have come to a tentative agreement on the purchase of Mt. Vernon's water and wastewater systems.

A news conference was held on Tuesday afternoon in Mt. Vernon to announce the proposed agreement that demonstrates how the public and private sectors can work together to find solutions to water and wastewater challenges.

According to the city, the proposed sale of the water and wastewater systems to Illinois American Water ensures the city will continue to meet regulatory standards, while partnering with a proven private company with more than 125 years of service in Illinois.

An appraisal procedure conducted under the supervision of the Illinois Commerce Commission will be used to determine the purchase price. The systems serve about 6,600 customer connections and a population of 15,000 in the city.

"After much consideration, we are convinced this proposed sale is in the best interest of Mt. Vernon and its residents," said Mayor Mary Jane Chesley. "It is the right move for us, for today and for our future."

The president of Illinois American Water, Bruce Hauk, said this will help Mt. Vernon residents have access to long-term, reliable water and wastewater services for years to come.

The proceeds of the proposed sale will be used by the city to pay for other projects throughout the city and improve services without raising taxes. In addition, the city will not be responsible for needed water and sanitary sewer repairs and upgrades, resulting in considerable savings in the short and long term.

According to Illinois American Water officials, the ICC appraisal and approval process is expected to be finished by early 2016. The appraisal procedure for valuing water systems was established as part of the Illinois Water Systems Act, signed into Illinois law in August 2013. The law gives communities an alternative to value their water and/or wastewater systems when considering acquisition by an investor-owned water and/or wastewater utility.

"The challenges we are facing are exactly why the Systems Viability Act was passed," Mayor Chesley said. "The timing of this partnership is beneficial to our community."

If the sale is approved by ICC, Illinois American Water would continue to make needed investments in infrastructure to ensure the water and wastewater systems are maintained and  upgraded appropriately. Following ICC approval, they will hold a community meeting so customers can meet representatives from the company and ask questions about their water and wastewater service. The company also plans to send an information packet to new customers.

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