Posted Online: April 07, 2010, 5:59 pm

Sewer bills surprise Silvis officials

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By Seth Kabala, seth@sethkabala.com

Silvis officials were unpleasantly surprised by recent sewer bills from the city of East Moline.

The city received a November bill of $44,000, followed by $70,000 in December and $45,000 in January. Aldermen learned Tuesday that February bill is $78,000.

Silvis Mayor Bill Fox told alderman that he and city administrator Jim Grafton met with East Moline to discuss the matter. Currently, the city has no process available to contest water bills they deem too high. City officials are seeking an amendment to the water/sewer agreement with East Moline.

East Moline and Silvis -- along with Carbon Cliff, Hampton, and Rapids City -- jointly own the regional sewage treatment plant run by East Moline, Mayor Fox said. Every three years, East Moline does an audit to find improvements, he said.

Mayor Fox said Carbon Cliff Mayor Kenneth Williams has found a court precedent requiring all government agreements to have due process. East Moline officials are reviewing that case, Mayor Fox said, to see if due process is needed in the regional agreement.

Mr. Grafton said a temperature sensor at a monitoring station inspected a few months ago was found to be defective, likely causing the bills to spike. The best approach, he added, was for Mayor Fox to send a letter to East Moline stating sewer bills should be reviewed at least three months back, when the malfunctioning sensor was discovered.

During the committee-of-the-whole portion of the meeting, Ald. Caryn Unsicker, 4th Ward, reported the Public Service Committee plans to use First Tech Web Pay Service to help Silvis with electronic payments for water, sewer and garbage bills, as well as ordinance violations. The company will collect a $2.50 fee per transaction from bill payees, with the city paying nothing, she said.

The item was moved to a council vote on April 20. The city hopes to begin using First Tech's services on June 1.

In other business, Mayor Fox sought and received aldemen's affirmation to pursue a clean energy grant towards the purchase of a new hybrid car. He said he learned at a recent Bi-State Regional Commission meeting that both Moline and Rock Island used such grants to buy new hybrids. He said he believed the grant covered 100 percent of the cost, about $23,000 for each car.