12/12/2017: By Lowell (Bud) Grieves
Re. Nov. 25 Forum letter by Doug Johnson, “Why should private company own Peoria’s water?”:
I want to take this opportunity to clarify a statement made in the above letter that when mayor I was personally offered $50,000 to make the water buyout issue disappear. The facts are that shortly after my taking office in 1997, water company executives met privately with me concerning the 1889 option granting the city the option every five years to purchase the water company. Their contention was that this option, because of its age and other factors, was no longer valid. They urged me to meet with the council and get them to approve the city’s dissolution of this contract.
They also stated that they were willing to pay the city $50,000 to end this “nuisance” issue for both parties. To their great credit, the council refused, and bolstered by a group of community-minded citizens who provided the funds for a legal challenge, the city went to court to prove the validity of this option. In 2002, after a five-year legal battle, the courts ruled in the city’s favor to uphold the 1889 franchise agreement, forcing the water company to participate in the city’s process of exploring a buyout every five years.
Establishment of the validity of this option is now a very valuable tool for the city, and one I am glad we did not relinquish for $50,000
Lowell (Bud) Grieves
Former Peoria mayor
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