Village of South Jacksonville Mulling Water Rate Increase; Possible Permanent Move Onto City of Jacksonville Water Utility

By Benjamin Cox on December 2, 2023 at 9:21am

The Village of South Jacksonville may be floating a proposal to the City of Jacksonville in the near future to become a permanent customer of their water department.

The Village has been on the City’s water off and on for lengthy amounts of time since November 2021 due to ongoing problems at the village’s water treatment plant at Oxville. The village has sunk thousands of dollars in manpower and equipment costs into the water treatment plant to get it up to specification and working properly over the last two years.

Village President Dick Samples said Thursday night at the Village Board meeting that he’s thankful that the city has allowed the village to remain on their water utility while the work has been getting done: “I will say this right now. We have inherited a monster, and we are doing the best that we can to make this thing work. Thank God for the City of Jacksonville being able to supply us water. We are not making a dime on this water plant, but we are not losing any money currently where we are at.”

Samples says it may be time to bring a proposal to the Board of Trustees to become permanent members of the city’s water utility: “It could potentially could save money if the City would go along. We need to find out from the City what they are going to charge us. We need assurance from the City that they will sell us water over an extended period of time because we are at their mercy right now. I mean, they can shut us off in the morning if they want to. Moving permanently to their water system is something that has been discussed among a few people at Village Hall about the question of whether we want to get back into the water business or if we want to continue with the City. There is lots of unanswered questions right now.”

Samples says regardless of whether the village remains on city water or continues treating their own water, he believes a water rate increase is due on the village’s water customers: “It was suggested 5 years ago that we have a water rate increase for village residents. This would depend upon what the City charges us if they charge us what they want to charge us. We are just barely breaking even right now. In order for us to maintain the water lines, which we would have to do whether we stay with the City or not, we still need this increase. Now, I live here in the village. I still think we are very cheap on water compared to these other little towns and villages that surround the area. It’s something that’s going to be discussed pretty heartily in the next month or so.”

Samples could not provide an exact date on when the village’s water treatment plant would operational again. According to a report given by Brian English, the village’s utility superintendent, as of Thursday, the water treatment plant was still waiting on media for water treatment to be installed before they could begin the cycle of testing required by the Illinois EPA. The estimated time of arrival for the media was not able to be provided.