ROCHELLE — The Creston Village Board unanimously approved the raising of its sewer rates in the village by 5.5 percent starting Jan. 1, 2022 at its Tuesday meeting.
The decision comes after Rochelle Municipal Utilities, which provides sewer service for Creston, informed the board that it would be raising its rates to the village 5.5 percent every year for three years. The first increase took effect Aug. 1. The increases were made to cover improvements to RMU’s water treatment plant.
The village previously planned on increasing rates by three percent Jan. 1 to cover expenses of its own. Rather than deciding to go up to an 8.5 percent increase to cover RMU’s increase and its own, Creston officials opted to just raise their planned increase by 2.5 percent.
The plan is for a 5.5 percent increase for three years before reverting to a three percent increase annually in 2025.
The board unanimously approved the lease of 144.6 acres of farmland the village owns to Eric Petry in a one-year contract at $310 per acre.
The term is from March 1, 2022 until Feb. 2023. It gives Petry the right to renew for one year at the same price, terms and conditions. Petry did not attend the meeting and still needs to sign the agreement.
Village President Tom Byro said at last month’s meeting that the village wanted a short-term agreement because of “other things” going on in the future that may change the course of future leases.
Water meter reader
Byro said the village has yet to hear about the status of its new water meter reader that it approved a $9,795 expenditure for at its August meeting.
The new handheld device also comes with an annual $1,950 a year service contract between the village and the company that provides the handheld and a radio frequency. The village is currently looking to hire someone local to use the water meter reader.
“Our machine has still not come in,” Byro said. “We're waiting on that. We do have a couple of people now that live in town that are possible people we can use if we get this thing going. We'll have to go with another month of bills that are estimated.”
The village is currently looking at applying for a Rebuild Illinois Main Street & Downtown Capital Program grant to improve its downtown area. Village Engineer Kevin Bunge said the minimum funding the village can request is $250,000 and the maximum is $3 million.
“There's $50 million available for the whole state,” Bunge said. “If you ask $3 million for a community this size, you're probably not going to get it. It is specifically for downtowns in rural areas. It needs to be improvements to a street with substantial commercial frontage on it. You need to show you've been hurt by COVID-19.”
Grant applications are due Jan. 10. The grant can be used for sewer, water or street improvements including street scape, lighting and sidewalks.
Byro said the village should be getting the first section of its American Rescue Plan Act funds this month. The second half will come in next year. The payouts are for $43,000 “and change” each.
The village is still deciding what to do with the funds and they must be used for “bondable” improvement projects and not maintenance.
The village board said Halloween trick-or-treating will take place in Creston on Sunday, Oct. 31 from 5-8 p.m.
“It's optional for the residents,” Byro said. “If they want to wear a mask, they can.”