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Pekin, IL brings wastewater operations in-house

By Sharon Woods Harris

Times staff writer

PEKIN -- With much less fanfare than the garbage service transfer to the city last year, the Pekin Wastewater Treatment Plant will once again come under the operation of city employees.

The Pekin City Council voted 5-0 Monday at its regular meeting to bring the wastewater treatment facility in-house.

Pekin City Manager Dennis Kief said he will begin negotiations today with the Teamsters for four United Water employees who work at the plant. Kief said when the city began to contract out the wastewater treatment the same four employees were city employees who went with United Water.

Two of those employees now have the highest certification the state of Illinois offers for wastewater treatment, said Kief.

United Water is the current contract holder for the operations of the plant. That contract ends in August. It was extended a few years ago by the council.

Last year the city voted to bring the garbage service in-house as a means of saving money. At that time the council told Kief to look for other ways to save money.

Kief said this is the next step in that process.

Bids were solicited for 10-year contracts from EarthTech, United Water, Illinois-American Water and EMC.

EarthTech bid $897,391 a year. Compared to that bid the city will save $144,178 in the first year alone.

United Water's bid in the first year is $949,568. The city would save $221,355 in the first year if it does not renew its contract with the company.

Commissioner Fred Massaglia and former wastewater treatment plant operator Don Gasper helped Kief with the city bid.

Kief said in 1993 it was cheaper to contract out the service. Massaglia voted against extending the United Water Agreement two years ago. He said he supported bringing the operations in-house.

Pekin Mayor Lyn Howard said the council has taken action in both the garbage collection and now the wastewater treatment to save taxpayers money. He said the city is saving $300,000 a year by operating the garbage service this year and now $221,000 with the wastewater treatment operations.

"I congratulate Mr. Kief and his staff for a job well done on the sewer plant operation and encourage them to now look closely at contracted services in our Street Department," said Howard. "We must be increasingly diligent in reducing the cost of city government."