Waters murky for replacing South Galena main

December 21, 2018

DIXON – The city is debating its plans to pay for a $1.2 million project to replace a stretch of water main on South Galena Avenue.

City Manager Danny Langloss told the City Council earlier this week that next month’s financial updates will reflect the Crundwell recovery fund dropping from $4.6 million to $3.4 million as that money is used to start paying for the South Galena water main replacement project.

The money will be loaned to the water department, which is meant to be self-sustainable through its water fees, Langloss said.

But the funding for the project, to replace the main from River to Fourth streets, was not designed as a loan to be repaid, Public Works Director Matt Heckman said.

In May 2017, the council approved a resolution to use recovery funds because the project would have put the water fund more than $600,000 in the red, and because it was deemed a priority project because of the water main break in July 2016 that cost the city more than $100,000 in emergency repairs.

When the council had a series of budget talks in February, the thought was that combining the water and wastewater funds would mean the joint utility fund could afford the project.

Then in March, the council decided not to use recovery funds. Somehow, the transfer from the recovery fund was not canceled, and although Langloss said earlier projections showed that the utility fund could handle the cost, that’s not the case anymore.

Mayor Li Arellano Jr. said the direction from the council was to loan the money to the water department.

The council discussed putting the money back and then debating the issue when it’s time to pay for the project, which could be a year or so down the road, but Finance Director Becky Fredericks said they already have paid about $15,000 in engineering fees, and there will be more bills to come.

Heckman said they’re hoping to get significant savings for the project through an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency revolving loan fund, which could cover up to 50 percent.

The conversation ended without a resolution, and Langloss said they need to decide what direction to take soon.

“The further out this project gets delayed, the more expensive it gets every year,” Langloss said. “We’ve got to find a way to pay for it.”

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