Sycamore residents might pay utility tax

By Paul Kirk

Members of the NIU community who commute from Sycamore might find a utility tax imposed on them to pay for the upgrade of the Sycamore sewage treatment plant.

“It’s an easy way to raise taxes in subterfuge and despite (what the council says) the tax will never go away,” said Jerry Henderson, owner of Henderson Department Store, 308 W. State St.

Henderson said the utility tax would put an unfair burden the plant’s payment on local business owners.

“Utility taxes are a worn out financing method. The sewer and water bill can be raised if need be, but no utility tax,” he said.

Jim Connor, a local resident, said he was anxious over the speed the council was moving on the sewer project.

“This problem has been going on since 1983, but the council never planned for the increase in housing and growth,” he said.

Connors said his alderman said he knew about this project for eight years, but Sycamore Mayor B. Phillip Ramsey told him two years.

“The growth is coming. The mayor has acknowledged that, but let growth pay for growth,” Connors said.

The residents who spoke to the council believed that the cost of the sewage project should be tied more to residence sewer and water bill instead of the council imposing a utility tax.

“The ways in which we can generate revenue for the project are limited for the city,” said Ken Mundy, city treasurer. “We’ve looked at different combinations of funding. It’s a little difficult to talk numbers without the bids.”

Mundy said it was never the council’s intention to “try to force anything down anyone’s throat.” He said the council deals with a deadline mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Our utility tax is already much higher than our sewer and water rates,” he said.

Mundy said all would pay their fair share by way of usage and people can limit the amount of water they use.

“No one thinks this whole project is a good idea, but it is a compliance by the EPA,” Mundy said.