BY KIM LUTTRELL
Village trustees took the first step Monday toward a possible sale of the village’s municipal water system.
Board members unanimously approved a resolution to retain the firm of GAI Consultants of Orlando, Fla., to appraise the value of the village water system.
"Gerald Hartman (with GAI Consultants) is one of the top 20 utility appraisers in the country," said Mayor Robert Jennings. "He recently did work for Philo when they sold their municipal water system."
Village attorney Steve Miller said he spoke to the Philo village attorney, who gave Hartman a positive recommendation.
Oakwood officials have recently had talks with representatives of Aqua Illinois about the possibility of either purchasing water wholesale or the sale of its municipal water system due to impending federally mandated water quality standards that take effect in 2014.
Concerns about the proposed coal mine near Homer and its effect on the Salt Fork River, where Oakwood draws water from for its system, also have caused concern for village officials.
Those federally mandated standards could result in the village being required to install new filtration equipment that could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In recent years, the village’s water system has been struggling to pay operating costs and is faced with an aging water pumping and filtration system.
Jennings said GAI would not be negotiating a sale of the water system, but supplying an appraisal of what the system is worth.
"We do not have the expertise to put a value on what our system is worth," Jennings told the board. "We need that information before we even consider what our options are."
Jennings said before any decision is made on the water system, the board would hold a public meeting to present the information to the residents.
In other board action, trustees:
Certified the results of the April 9 consolidated election and swore in Andy Schulte, Bob Parr and Tom Cook as trustees for four-year terms. Robert Jennings was sworn in as village president and Connie Young as village clerk, both for four-year terms.
Heard from resident Ronnie Payne concerning a large water bill she received due to water line leak. Trustees voted to make an adjustment to the water bill but also agreed to rewrite the ordinance that allows for such adjustments to make the language in the ordinance more clear.
Approved a 2013 motor fuel tax budget of $70,000. Village engineer Lisa Lashuay presented the board with the proposed budget that calls for patching and sealing various village streets, replacing of some curbs and sidewalks and for snow removal.
Heard a request from Oakwood High School junior Layne Bennett for a donation to fund an upcoming trip to the National Association of Student Councils national meeting in Las Vegas. Bennett has recently been elected as president of the Illinois Association of Student Councils and will represent Illinois at the national meeting. Bennett seeks donations to cover his airfare, hotel and meals during the national meeting, which is June 22-24. Board members will take action on the request at its June meeting.
Reminded residents it is against village ordinance to throw grass clippings in the streets. The grass clippings can be carried to storm drains and cause them to become blocked. It also is against federal EPA regulations for the village to allow the grass clippings to reach storm water drains because of possible pollution concerns due to fertilizer and herbicide residue in the grass clippings.
Approved a resolution authorizing the execution of a service agreement with lowest responsible bidder for the supply of electricity for residential and small commercial retail customers who do not opt-out of the municipal aggregation program.
Oakwood Village Board members will meet at 6:30 p.m. June 10 in the village hall.