By David Ransburg and Lowell
Posted Nov 3, 2017 at 5:00 PM
As the two most recent former mayors of the city of Peoria, we have been following with great interest the current discussion over the future of the water system. During our tenures, the question of remunicipalizing our water system was explored but never fully pursued. We regret not having done so.
It is evident that a public water system has great potential for Peoria residents. From significant revenue for the city to local control of our most valuable asset to greater stability in rates, a city-owned water system could be of meaningful long-term and short-term benefit.
Since we served, much has changed. Consider:
* Peoria’s budget deficit has gotten more severe and the need for additional revenue is greater than ever. The City Council would do a disservice to its taxpayers not to explore every option before cutting services or raising taxes.
* During the past 12 years, residential rates charged by Illinois American Water Company have increased more than 60 percent, much greater than the rate of inflation. The Council should try to limit this hidden tax upon every Peorian.
* With the severe drought in the Southwest, we are much more sensitive to the value of water and who controls it. A publicly owned water system would safeguard this life-sustaining natural resource for our children and grandchildren.
* Two well-respected civic organizations, the CEO Council and the League of Women Voters of Greater Peoria, have done independent analyses and arrived at similar conclusions. Both urged the City Council to conduct the due diligence to arrive at a purchase price. If this support had been available when we were mayor, we are confident the the City Council would have had more and better information to go forward with due diligence and possible purchase.
What’s clear is that the city of Peoria does not have enough revenue to support our current level of service. The water system has a revenue stream the city could access to benefit all Peorians, if it could be purchased for a “fair” price.
We write to urge the City Council to take this unique opportunity to find out what the cost of the water system would be. If the city gets an appraisal that is excessively high, we will be the first to say a purchase should not proceed. If, however, the appraisal price is affordable, the Council and the citizenry will know the facts, and we would support municipalizing the water system.
This is really a simple question: Do the people of Peoria want to know the cost of purchasing this public asset? We urge the Council to say yes.
David P. Ransburg
Lowell “Bud” Grieves
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