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Walnut board talks website, sewer rate increases

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013 3:44 p.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013 3:50 p.m. CST

WALNUT — Members of the Walnut Chamber of Commerce addressed the Walnut Village Board at Monday’s meeting regarding the future of the Community Improvement Committee.

Chamber members Sandy Green and Brian Smith had previously requested to speak to the village board regarding partnering with the village to better the community and to create a more viable village of Walnut website. At a community meeting held last summer, a group of village residents showed interest for a variety of initiatives. Committees were organized and subsequent meetings were held.

At Monday’s board meeting, Green and Smith discussed a survey created by those committees to send to all village residents. However, the survey had never been finalized. A copy of the proposed survey was presented to the board and Community Improvement Committee members asked the board to review the survey and make recommendations for possible changes. The board agreed to do that, with those recommendations to be discussed at the Jan. 6, 2014, regular meeting.

Green also said that she, as a member of the Chamber of Commerce, is in the process of updating the former village of Walnut website, www.villageofwalnut.com, which is owned by the Chamber and had not been updated for some time. There were some problems with the links on the home page of the website, and she is addressing those problems and updating all of the information contained in the website, Green said.

Hopefully by partnering with the village board, there will be one website from which current and future residents will be able to access for information about the community, Green said.

Green and Smith thanked the village board for its continued efforts to improve the village and, through a joint effort by the Chamber and the village board, improvements can be completed for all village residents.

In other business, the board heard from Matt Hansen, engineer from Willett, Hoffman & Associates of Dixon, on eight different rate increase proposals relating to the upcoming $2 million sewer plant improvement project. The eight proposals ranged from a 100 percent fixed rate and 0 percent usage rate to the opposite end, at a 0 percent fixed rate and 100 percent usage driven.

Hansen said the higher the fixed amount of the increase, the more the smaller users are affected. The village board would probably want to consider a rate increase that would be somewhere in the middle of the range, he said.

At the 60 percent fixed and 40 percent usage driven proposal, the average customer would have an increase of $18.05 to their monthly sewer and water bill, Hansen said. At the 50 percent fixed and 50 percent usage driven proposal, the average customer would have an increase of $18.40 per month.

Even with an increase in the $18 range for the average customer, Walnut’s rates for water and sewer would remain below the average of many communities in Illinois, Hansen said. The average customer in Walnut would pay approximately $61 per month for these services. The average of 30 communities in north-central Illinois, ranging in population from 460 to 16,000, is $69 a month, he said.

Board member Lee Sarver made a motion for the board to review Hansen’s proposals during the coming weeks, with a decision on the rate increase to be made at the Jan. 6 board meeting. This motion was approved by all members present.

In additional business, Sarver said he had been approached by coordinators of the tornado cleanup in Washington, Ill. Sarver, along with other Walnut area residents, had previously gone to Washington to provide assistance. Sarver had been asked if the village of Walnut would be willing to provide a dump truck to aid with hauling debris from the tornado devastation. The truck would be taken to Washington on Dec. 20 and 21, with Sarver and others going to drive the truck and assist.

The board agreed the village would provide the dump truck and would provide Sarver with the funds for the fuel to operate the truck while it was being used in Washington. It was noted FEMA will reimburse the village for all expenses incurred after the submission of receipts.

Sarver was commended for his service to help the residents of Washington.

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