Sunday, May 7, 2017

A Huge Increase to Freeporters' Water and Sewer Bill....For What?

The release of Mayor Gitz's Sunday morning Journal-Standard column jostled Tutty from a winter hibernation.  Perhaps you read the mayor's column this morning.

The statement that piqued Tutty's interest and Tutty trusts it will be of concern to any thinking Freeport reader was where Mayor Gitz wrote, "Finally, there is an Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant to be submitted to the U.S. Department of Commerce.  This grant seeks federal funding for economic development options along the Lamm Road corridor.  EDA told our staff funding was more likely if we submitted our application now, not weeks or months hence"

Because Tutty had no idea what the "Lamm Road corridor" is, Tutty went to the City's webpage and looked up Resolution #2017-29 as it is being presented to the Freeport City Council.  To say this resolution is problematic is an understatement of large proportion.

The Resolution is a last gasp effort in the eleventh hour of the Gitz administration to provide water and sewer service to Albertus Airport and the Mill Race Crossing industrial park.   Although they are now calling it the "A3M (Aviation, Agriculture, and Advanced Manufacturing) corridor".

Tutty finds it beyond belief that on the heels of the largest water and sewer rate increase ever (most residents will see an eight-dollar increase this month and every year for the following two-years).  The Gitz administration, again, in the eleventh hour would propose city council consideration of the largest water and sewer build out in Freeport's history.

So Tutty really wants to know from those council members that supported the massive hike in the capital improvement fee--did you vote yes to repair our existing infrastructure or to provide the capital to expand our current system?

Is this build out part of the long term plan the city engineer was continually touting?  And if so why didn't the Freeport City Council and the public at large know about it when the fees were being raised?

It doesn't take a $100,000 grant for an alert individual to see that such a build out of Freeport water and sewer service would be an expensive proposition.  Likely need at least two lift stations and the confluence of Yellow Creek and the Pecatonica River is only one geological consideration.  Let's also look at the fact there are scant new hook-ups to be had, which would mean existing water and sewer users would be picking up the maintenance costs.  A sanitary sewer manhole every 500 feet does not come maintenance free.

Tutty suspects such a build out of water and sewer infrastructure would be in the $20 million range...if not more.  You may disagree, it is a free country, but it can't be much less than $20 million, pure logic will tell you that much.  Facts are, the intersection of Lamm and Springfield Roads are farther from the sewage treatment plant than any other service in Freeport by the way the crow flies.  The only spot in Freeport that is comparable distance away is the west side of the Campus Estates subdivision.

In Tutty's opinion, even discussing such a massive build out with Freeport's currently shrinking population is asinine.  Just a few months ago four city council member were telling us we needed massive rate increases just to maintain our system, will these same four now vote in favor of a feasibility study which ultimately seeks to expand that same system without substantial new rate payers?

 Here is the resolution as presented to the Freeport City Council.

Another issue which concerns Tutty is the resolution's assertion that "The County (Stephenson) has committed $25,000...".  Tutty looked and cannot find where this item ever appeared in a Stephenson County Board agenda or a committee agenda of the county board.  Tutty has e-mailed a Freedom of Information request to the Stephenson County Administrator seeking the meeting minutes wherein this expenditure was approved.

If Stephenson County has not approved this expenditure...well let's just say that using fiction to trick someone into voting your way is usually considered fraud.

Hope everyone has a great day.

As always, yours in honesty, Tutty Baker

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