Water, Sewer Issues Linger For Mt. Vernon

(MT. VERNON, IL) — Recent concerns amongst City of Mt. Vernon residents regarding what actions the Mt. Vernon City Council may take toward improving water and sewer infrastructure have put municipal leaders back in the spotlight. An attempt to sell the city’s systems to Illinois American Water came under heavy fire from community members and even resulted in a state Attorney General investigation over the meeting procedures surrounding the attempt, which ultimately ended in the Council ending that pursuit.

What remained was a continually deteriorating water and sewer system and a number of boil orders over the past year to repair weakened and broken mains. Amid a recent letter to the editor, WMIX News talked to Ray Botch, a former city manager for Mt. Vernon, who has proposed the Council look into a one half percent home rule sales tax.

Botch indicated that he did not want credit for idea, but wanted a solution that everyone could be on board with. He expressed concerns that the Council might be meeting in an attempt to raise the rate for water customers.

WMIX News also sought comment from the City Council and Mayor Mary Jane Chesley.

Chesley indicated that the Council is faced with three options: sell the system, keep the system and finance improvements locally, or do nothing at all. She indicated that the Council agreed that the third option was eliminated.

Councilman Todd Piper stated, “We are not selling the water and sewer. I know I heard that loud and clear last year from the public that this was not an option that they wanted.”

Councilman Donte Moore said that the council has been meeting in workshops and going over several options that they may present in town hall style meetings to be offered to the public in the near future. Moore stated that these meetings would be at different times in the day to allow for individuals with varying schedules to attend. Moore echoed Piper’s sentiments, saying, “I am not for the sale of the water or sewer. I don’t care if it takes us a hundred years.” Piper also indicated that some of the options for the city may be over a longer period of time, saying if it is put on the city to replace it, it may be over a period of “30, 40, 50 years” in an effort to keep it from being burdensome to the lower income citizens of the community.

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday night at 7 p.m. due to the Labor Day Holiday. It will be held at the Rolland W. Lewis Community Building and can be heard on WMIX-AM 940 & 96.5 FM.