Richmond’s budget reflects ongoing sewer plant troubles

Village looking to gain new revenue from underused facility

RICHMOND – With expected loan payments to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency still higher than the village’s goal, the Richmond Finance Committee’s draft budget includes new taxes and other potential revenue streams.

The most significant change from previous years’ budgets is the purchase of what officials jokingly – and in mock-up advertisements – call the Beast.

The new equipment, an add-on to handle concreted sewage from septic haulers, would allow Richmond to make its sewer plant into a moneymaker, charging commercial dumpers to unload, Village President Pete Koenig said.

The plant was built in 2004 with the expectation that connection fees from new homes in Prairie Hill, a 224-acre subdivision on the north side of Route 12 near the Route 31 intersection, would pay for the project.

The subdivision, however, was never developed, and the village was left with the bill, $450,000 in annual payments to the Illinois EPA over 20 years.

The village continues to negotiate with the agency for lower rates, and at this point it looks like the loan will be extended to 30 years with annual payments of $375,000, Koenig said. Nothing has been finalized.

Village officials had hoped to get payments of $250,000 to $275,000, he said.

Because the subdivision was never built, the sewer plant is also not at capacity. The village plans on tapping into that capacity and generating a new revenue stream to help with the EPA payments.

“It’s nice because it helps the plant pay for itself,” Koenig said.

The additional equipment will cost $200,000 over two years. If the village goes ahead with an agreement currently in the works, it will not have to pay interest in exchange for allowing the plant to be used temporarily as a demo site.

Although the equipment will cost the village more in the short term, Koenig said, the life of the EPA loan is 30 years.

“To do this [paying off the loan] simply by increasing water and sewer rates would just be devastating,” Koenig said.

To make ends meet, the Village Board also doubled the cost of vehicle registration stickers and the telecommunications tax. It added two new utility taxes on electricity and gas.

Revenue from the vehicle stickers and the new video gaming machines won’t affect the budget for the fiscal year that starts May 1 but will affect the budget for fiscal 2014-15.

If you go

The Richmond Finance Committee will conduct a final review of the proposed budget at its meeting at 4:15 p.m. today at Richmond Village Hall, 5600 Hunter Drive.

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