Hoping to start proactive work on Normal's aging sewer system, the Town Council voted Monday to more than double the sewer rate paid by residents over the next five years.
Normal Town Council members approved the new sewer rates and a new sewer master plan by unanimous vote. A typical homeowner who sends 6,000 gallons through the sewer system each month would see their bill rise from $10 to $15 next year. It will then tick up each year, to $22.67 by 2022.
"The sewer system is the keeper of civilization," said council member Kathleen Lorenz. "We don't want to take any chances or cut any corners."
The new sewer master plan has been in development since 2015. A major problem is the town's main sewer fund does not bring in enough money to cover operational and capital costs. There are 180 miles of sewer in Normal, mostly clay pipe. Some segments are more than 100 years old.
"These are challenges with maintaining the system so that basement backups and overflows are minimized," town staff told council members in a report before Monday's vote. "A proactive approach to asset management is critical to being able to renew or replace portions of the sanitary sewer system before they reach the end of their useful life."
The Town of Normal sewer rate had been unchanged for three years prior to a 4 cent increase in May.
"No one wants to see the rates go up. The goal is for people to do their business and not worry about anything else," said council member Kevin McCarthy.
The rate increase will allow the town to pursue several sewer projects over the next five years, totaling $6.1 million. Those projects include:
- Cured-In-Place Piping projects to repair/address the sewer segment with the highest likelihood of failure.
- Rehab or replace manholes.
- Clean, televise, and rate all sanitary sewers by end of Fiscal Year 2022-23.
- Improvements at pump stations.
- Improvements to three un-sewered areas on septic systems.
The town will also hire two new staff members for sewer work.
“The idea is to help us build a fund so we can start doing projects, and accumulate those funds so we can continue working down the road,” council member Jeff Fritzen told GLT's Sound Ideas.
You can also listen to GLT's full interview with Fritzen:
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