Public Against Water System Takeover

Peoria residents do not think their water system should be in the hands of the City of Peoria.

That’s what a recent public opinion poll revealed. Illinois American Water’s Karen Cotton says 69 percent of the public voted against a City of Peoria buyout. And 72 percent of voters in Peoria believe Illinois American Water should run and operate the system.

“We want to make sure that we ask them about the buyout option because we are not in favor of a government takeover of our system,” Cotton said.

Cotton said Illinois American Water issued the poll after the possibility of a buyout began to surface.

“The reason that we want to take the pulse of our customers now is that we learned that there are organizations that are studying the buy outs,” Cotton said.

A Water Objective Study Group, comprised of local business leaders, was created to analyze the financial viability of the City acquiring the water services. They’ll make a recommendation to the CEO Council.

An 1889 franchise agreement gives the City the legal right to buy the water system every five years whether the company wants to sell the system or not. Over the last decade, Peoria City Council has not pursued a government takeover of the local water system. In 2013, the City Council voted 8-3 against buying the water company.

The next vote on the water buyout will take place in 2018.

“I can tell you the City would increase rates without oversight,” Cotton said. “Municipalities are able to do that. I can tell you we have an 11-month process when it comes to changing rates.”

Cotton says the survey also revealed “the City of Peoria has more important priorities than buying the water company.”

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