Peoria gets water buy-out plan formally presented - Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

Peoria gets water buy-out plan formally presented

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PEORIA, Ill. (WEEK) -- -

We're learning more about a proposal to buy the Water company in Peoria.

It's an idea that can only come up every half decade per a more-than hundred-year-old agreement.

In the last few months, a group of local business leaders called the CEO Council have published a plan they think would benefit the River City financially; however, many are hesitant.

"It's not due diligence, it's a buyout," said Illinois American Water spokesperson Karen Cotton, referring to the CEO Council's plan for the city to study whether or not the move is feasible. "These are the people that the city owes $2 million (to) ... for going through this the last time. There is that old saying fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. That's something the city council should consider," added Cotton.

In years past, the city has checked into the buy-back twice multiple times and it has yet to work out.

She said, there's an on-going lawsuit that the city got into for backing out of the deal once before with a similar group.

Meanwhile, Tom Fliege is the Water infrastructure study chair for the Peoria Area CEO Council, he believes that this time, things will be different.

"This is about what's right for our children and their children," said Fliege. "This is about what's right for Peoria long-term. Frankly we wish this had been done for Peoria 25 years ago, because we would be reaping the benefits for that today. At a time when money is so sorely needed in our community."

With the city financially struggling, Fliege believes the water source is a revenue source that is right in the city's hands.

The group's research claims Illinois American water is getting the profits that could go to the city.

"It's complicated in the sense of is it the time to do it ... not the time to do it, or is there never going to be a time to do it," said Council Member Chuck Grayeb.

Grayeb said the city needs to get the matter figured out once and for all.

Meanwhile council woman Elizabeth Jensen has questions, but believes the city should check into it considering the council's plan to do it without raising taxes.

"I think that we owe it to our taxpayers and citizens to really explore this and analyze it especially since we have this offer that it will not be on the taxpayers dime."

The city will review the matter again in March, where council members hope to learn more.

City Manager Patrick Urich says the council will have to make a final decision by late this year.

For full disclosure, it's important to note WEEK-TV's Vice President and General Manager Mark DeSantis is on the CEO Council,

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