The Mascoutah City Council met on April 17 at 7:00 PM. They discussed and approved revisions to both electric and water and sewer rates. This increases the electric and water rates for citizens in Mascoutah. Electricity will now be increased by 3%, both base customer charge and usage energy charge for all user classifications.
Mayor Pat McMahan discussed that water rates are being brought up to alleviate the city’s debt due to a rough estimate of 25 million dollars debt held by the city due to two previous projects with both water and electricity. “The treatment plant isn’t cheap and like everything else in this world, costs have risen dramatically in the last few years so we have to account for it somewhere. No one likes to raise rates but I don’t see how we can avoid it.”
Councilman Wyant also discussed it, noting that with the increases of everything, households will see on average a $20 to $25 raise in bills.
Councilman Battas said that he wishes for the council to in the future hold contractors more accountable for both bids and surprise increases. “We shouldn’t see a big increase. I know this year we were hit with over a million dollars in projected change over orders.
Mayor McMahan added, “Inflation is eating everybody alive and we aren’t immune to that.”
Along with rates being raised, properties with solar or self generating power will see an increase in incentives. This increases from $0.0538 to $0.0999, using rates provided by IMUA (Illinois Municipal Utilities Association).
Councilman Kohrmann added that he hopes they don’t have to raise rates again next year.
Mascoutah Fire Chief Joe Zinck read a report through zoom on the prior month’s fire department’s doings. The Mascoutah Fire Department training officers set up several IFSI (Illinois Fire Service Institute) and SWIC (Southwestern Illinois College) firefighter training courses. They are still working on a program to comply with I-OSHA respiratory safety regulations. Mascoutah Fire Department will be holding an open house on Sunday, May 7. The Mascoutah Fire Department is also looking into replacing their current thermal imaging cameras and gas detectors.
The Council approved the adoption of the Mascoutah City’s Fiscal Year 23/24 budget with little discussion.
The council discussed and approved the allowing of utility companies to utilize easements by having the right-of-way to do so. This would allow utility companies to use any easements as they please, provided they inform those whose private property they will be crossing into.
An amendment was specifically added to clarify that the utility providing the work must be responsible for notifying all affected residents of work to be done in their yards. The notification must also include an explanation of the work and contact information of the utility. Punishments for utility companies could go as far as being fined up to $500.
Mayor McMahan stated that Frontier has done a very good job at repairing and improving the fiber optic lines, but that they’ve done a very poor job of notifying people that they will be working on lines and should be held accountable for notifying the public.
The council approved a motion to purchase 12 transformers from Jerry’s Electric Inc. for the amount of $53,205.00. These transformers will be held in the electric department’s inventory to provide backups for potential transformer failures or damages. These will not be obtained for 60 to 64 weeks due to stock shortages.
The council adjourned to executive session to discuss personnel changes. They will meet again on Monday, May 1 at 7:00 PM.