According to the Paxton Record, Starting in November, all Rankin residents might be charged a minimum of $60 on their monthly bills covering water and sewer service and garbage pickup.
The village board agreed Thursday to hold a public hearing at 5:50 p.m. Nov. 5 at the Rankin Public Library, 121 S. Main St., regarding a proposed $6.80 increase in the debt-service charge listed on each monthly bill. The board plans to vote on the fee increase at its regular meeting immediately following the hearing.
The board discussed whether to make the $6.80 fee increase permanent, or instead add a temporary $6.80 increase onto the existing $8.50 debt-service charge. Board members decided that temporarily increasing the debt-service fee would be a better option, since the increase would be eliminated as soon as the village pays off a 15-year loan it obtained for the restoration of the town’s water tower this fall.
“I agree with the $6.80 as a debt-service fee, but I’m really not agreeing with a $6.80 charge that would sit there forever,” board member Lynn Magers said. “At least if you’re going to give (a debt-service charge increase) to (residents), they know what it’s paying for, and there’s a possibility it’s going to come off (their bills eventually).”
“I think it would be more digestible to people as a debt-service fee,” board member Alyssa Duncan said.
The board only needed to increase the monthly minimum bill by $5 to pay off the loan within the 15-year time frame, but it opted to go with the higher amount in order to do so quicker.
With the $6.80 increase, the minimum bill would rise from $53.20 to $60 starting in November.
Duncan and fellow board member Nancy “Joey” Mason both expressed concern with how residents would feel about the fee hike.
“I know there are a lot of people in town who have trouble with even increasing it by $1 or $2, so I don’t know what the general consensus amongst the town is,” Duncan said.
“I know they’re not going to like it no matter what we do, but we have to fix the water tower,” Mason said.
However, Village Board President Aaron Warren noted that Rankin’s combined minimum bill for water and sewer service and garbage pickup would still be “very, very reasonable.”
The fee increase is necessary to help fund a $119,143 project that involves power-washing the water tower’s exterior, then spot-painting it. The project also involves repainting the interior of the “non-water-bearing” portion of the tower and doing a “full blast and paint job” to the “water-bearing” portion of the tower’s inside, engineers have said. The project also involves repainting the letters that spell out “Rankin” on the exterior of the tower’s elevated tank.
In March, the board accepted a $119,143 bid for the project — the lowest among two received — from Maguire Iron of Sioux Falls, S.D.
Warren said Thursday, following a brief meeting with Maguire Iron officials, that the work is expected to begin in early October and be completed in November.
“We shouldn’t have any interruptions in water (service),” Warren told the board. “If anybody in the village out there has any complaints or any issues, please let me know. ... Hopefully, it will be a seamless effort.”
Also at Thursday’s meeting:
— The board set trick-or-treat hours for 5-7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30.
— For the second straight month, the board postponed making a decision on whether to spend an estimated $4,000 to install new drainage tile and back-fill a ditch on village right-of-way on the south side of East Fifth Street. Warren said the work is being considered because residents in that area claim they are unable to mow the right-of-way as required by village ordinance. Residents are complaining the slope is now too steep following repairs to a sewer line there, Warren said. The board was concerned about not just the cost of the project, but also whether it would create a precedent where citizens in other areas of town would expect the same treatment. “It’s a lot of money,” Warren acknowledged. “I didn’t realize the pipe is that expensive.” The board made plans to look into alternative solutions.
— Warren said repairs to the village’s lift station are complete. In a related matter, Warren said village engineers are still working with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to address noncompliance with environmental regulations regarding the sewer system.
— Although the board approved a resolution in September stating the village’s intent to place bids on two dilapidated properties in Rankin — at 101 N. Main St. and 212 W. 2nd St. — at the Vermilion County Treasurer’s Office’s tax deed auction, Warren said Thursday that he was unable to attend the auction, and therefore the village did not place a bid on either property. Warren apologized to the board, saying he accepts “full responsibility.” Meanwhile, Magers said she would contact the county’s tax agent to see if the village could still buy one of the properties it was planning to place a bid on. The other property was sold to a bidder at the auction.
— Resident Paul Jones told the board he would be willing to offer $6,000 for the purchase of a village-owned property at 215 S. Dixon St. The property was donated to the village by Wells Fargo, which had acquired the property through foreclosure. Jones had earlier submitted a bid of $3,000 to buy the property — the only bid received by the village in a sealed-bid auction last summer — but the board rejected the bid because it was too low. Jones said he would like to repair the property and live there. Warren told Jones that he was the only one still interested in buying the property, but Warren said he would need to discuss with the village’s attorney whether the village can legally sell it without conducting another auction. Depending on what the attorney decides, the board could vote to sell it to Jones in November. In September, the board had made plans to enter into a “listing agreement” with a real estate company to help sell the property. Under such an agreement, the property would be sold “as is” with a listed price of $12,000, with $2,000 in commission paid to the agent.
— There was no further discussion on finding a replacement for former part-time Rankin police officer Stewart Stafford, who resigned Aug. 31 to take a full-time job with the Paxton Police Department. Last month, Warren said he had been in contact with former Paxton police officer Brian Norton about Norton possibly filling the vacant position.