East Peoria City Council members spent most of their meeting Tuesday night explaining the additional fees on water and sewer bills to concerned residents.
Mayor John Kahl said the sewer capital fees were implemented in 2017, and are needed to pay back a loan funding $46 million worth of sewer system upgrades mandated by the Illinois EPA.
"We had no choice, folks," said Kahl. "It was painful. It was a tough decision for those of us on the council when it came before us in 2017. But the choice was very clear at that time."
Kahl said previous councils had punted the expenditure for years until it could be put off no longer. He said the city doesn't make any money off water and sewer bills.
"The city doesn't profit. Keep in mind, everything that we fund, that's your tax dollars. That's our tax dollars. So there's nothing in here that we frivolously waste just to be doing that," he said.
Some residents have complained of increases of $100 or more, but Kahl said he's done an apples-to-apples comparison of average water bills showing the total bill increase was $11.10.
He said the fee is based on consumption. He said people spending more time at home during hte COVID-19 pandemic may play a factor, as well. Kahl also encouraged people to call city hall to have an expert come out and check for leaks if residents have has recently seen a large spike in their water bills.
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