An update on several city projects

Jeff Fiegenschuh
Posted 2/4/22

I hope everyone in the community had a safe and wonderful holiday season. With 2022 well underway, I thought I would update everyone on several city projects.

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An update on several city projects

Posted

I hope everyone in the community had a safe and wonderful holiday season. With 2022 well underway, I thought I would update everyone on several city projects. 

The city has been working on implementation of a new EAM (Enterprise Asset Management) and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software systems. The new systems will allow for enhanced inventory controls, a new GIS system, facilities management, greater inspection controls, a new budget, human resources and accounts payable and receivable system and great flexibility to track and manage service calls, work orders and capital improvement projects.

I’m most excited for the new utility billing software that will allow our customers to track in real time their water and electric usage. The city has been working on this system for the past two years and full implementation is expected by July 2022. These types of systems are needed for a complex organization like ours with a budget that exceeds $85 million, owns, and manages multiple utility functions and utilizes fund accounting (over 30 different funds)

Recently the city issued approximately $18 million in alternate revenue bonds for upgrades to Rochelle Municipal Utilities’ electric distribution system. By taking advantage of the low interest rate environment, we will be able to complete the many needed updates to support our utility load growth and increase system reliability and avoid future inflationary costs. The overall interest rate is approximately two percent over 15 years (when the debt will be retired).  Because the city retired $14 million in electric revenue bond debt last year and due to the low rates, funding the debt service will not require a rate increase. The funds are being utilized for system upgrades totaling more than $22 million. This includes finalizing the Prologis Park substation, construction of a new substation on Center Point Drive, upgrades to our Twombly Road substation, a new 10.1 mile 34.5 KV line to connect the Center Point substation to the Prologis Park and Twombly Road sub stations and upgrades to consumer service facilities (transformers, distribution lines, etc.). 

This work is many years in the making and was needed years ago. Many thanks to former Electric Superintendent Jason Bird and current Superintendent of Electric Operations Blake Toliver for advocating for these projects and overseeing their implementation. 

Speaking of critical infrastructure, I would like to thank Adam Lanning, the superintendent of water and water reclamation, along with his team for all their hard work initiating upgrades to water well 8 near Caron Road and working to complete a new well and well house on 2nd Avenue. Both projects are being funded through a combination of reserve dollars and grants and loans through the IL EPA. Well 8 was drilled in the 1960s to provide water for our industrial customers and is need of an iron removal system. Well 4, the city’s oldest well, was drilled in 1926. The work being done includes a new building, new pumps and motors, conversion to liquid chlorine and installation of a new water main. The layout is also designed for a future radium removal plant if it’s needed. 

Finally, I would like to thank Mayor John Bearrows and our entire city council. Without their leadership and forward thinking, these projects would not happen. When they developed the city’s strategic plan in 2018, every councilperson emphasized the need to maintain and reinvest in our infrastructure. Along with commercial development and housing, this was a top priority. I am very pleased with how far we have come in the past four years, and I am looking forward to continued growth for our town.  

I’m wishing you all a happy and healthy 2022. Let’s hope baseball starts on time and the Red Sox win the World Series. 

“Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears”-John Lennon

“The end of all knowledge should be service to others”-Cesar Chavez

“The ability to speak does not make you intelligent”-Qui-Gon Jinn

Jeffrey A. Fiegenschuh, MPA, ICMA-CM, is the city manager of the City of Rochelle.