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Joliet looks at water, sewer operations efficiency

The Joliet City Council approved the adoption of an implementation plan last week that looks at the efficiency of water and sewer operation to determine what, if any, savings residents can expect to see on their water bills.

City action to look into the matter first started in Oct. 2015 when officials enlisted the help of Matrix Consulting Group to perform a water and sewer operations efficiency study.

Over the years, residents have seen water rate increases that vary.

In 2009, residents saw a 35 percent increase. Those same rates jumped to 5 percent in 2010 and 2011.

City Manager Jim Hock said the culmination of activities to adopt an implementation plan means that officials will soon need to consider a water rate change and said officials have taken the findings of the outside consulting firm they worked with into consideration.

“Staff has worked to create this implementation of their recommendations, which will be carried out by staff utilizing a timetable and we can report to you on a regular basis the progress we’re making on this implementation plan,” he said.

Jim Eggen, director of public utilities, said from a water and sewer operations standpoint, the city wants to ensure the public they’re doing everything possible to keep water rates manageable.

“Overall the findings were measures to support efficiencies,” he said. “They noted a few items now included on the implementation plan… The bottom line I came to the conclusion is there couldn’t be much money saved through operational change and that rate change would be needed.”

Eggen noted an area of concern that’s been pointed out to the city is crew size, and said that’s one change the union argues against.

“Sometimes it forces us to be overstaffed,” he said. “That’s kind of day-to-day, not operational.”

Eggen said some the concern posed by residents recently comes as a result of the city’s lack of action taken to increase water rates annually.

“At the time, we should have doing minor increases annually,” he said.

Eggen explained that every time his department proposed changes they were shot down.

“By not replacing the failing infrastructure, that would increase our operational costs,” he said. “We’ve been advocating that we complete a rehabilitation plan.”

The proposed rate increase, if approved, would be established at 12.5 percent and subsequently go into effect in November.

Information on a water and sewer rehabilitation plan was last presented before the city officials on Aug. 15. That plan includes projects pertaining to the east side water treatment plant, additional nutrient removal for treatment processes and the expansion of the capital program to rebuild and maintain water mains and sewers.

On Sept. 19, city staff will deliver a presentation on the rates study. Officials will need to consider a proposed rate change in October.

City looks at proposed 2017 roadway reconstruction projects

The City of Joliet is looking to start the process of planning for 2017 roadway reconstruction.

At a recent meeting, the Joliet City Council approved a measure that allocates $1,400,000 in Motor Fuel Tax funds to account for the projects. City action also establishes a special service area, or special taxing district, for the program and allows officials to start pursuing engineering plans and advertisements for bids.

Officials said 2016 roadway reconstruction projects are similar to the 2017 program where the roads to see improvement are typically neighborhood residential or collector streets. Included in the program for improvement are Knox Place, York Avenue, Marion Street, Garvin Street, Sherman Street, Charity Avenue and Douglas Street.

The Department of Public Works intends to look at the city’s roadway reconstruction projects for 20017 during the fall or early winter. City action allows them to begin the project design and IDOT approval process in winter and early spring.

Contract for diversity training for Jolie Police Department approved

To ensure that police officers continue to receive training in cultural concerns, the city made a budget amendment to contract for diversity training for the Joliet Police Department.

At a recent meeting, the Joliet City Council unanimously approved a measure that allows police officers to receive cultural competency and procedural justice training pursuant to state laws.

Over the years, the climate in the nation has mandated that the police department take action to ensure that officers are continuing to receive training for cultural concerns.

State law says police departments must engage in specialized training every three years. The city said full-day diversity training is a need for the police department, even as they’ve provided some of it in small segments throughout the program.

City action allows the police department to contract for eight days of diversity and inclusion training from MulticultuReal Communications and transfer $20,000 from the General Fund balance to the 2016 Police Budget.

Joliet amends contract for trash collection with Waste Management

The city is amending its trash collection contract with Waste Management to allow the vendor to receive payment earlier.

Officials began using an American Express card for a number of the city’s large regular purchases a few years ago. The city said Waste Management typically must wait approximately 90 days for their payment from American Express.

To date, Waste Management serves as the city’s largest account with charges amounting to more than $900,000 per month.

In order to receive payment faster, the vendor will provide a check refunding the city 1 percent of the fees that are paid to them by the City of Joliet on a monthly basis. Officials said the city received a refund valued at about $60,000 last year.

The amendment is effective now through the end of the contract on Dec. 31, 2017.

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