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Lisbon asks county for loan as sewage spills into creek

Updated: November 22, 2012 6:13AM

YORKVILLE – The small village of Lisbon has a big sewer problem.

Officials from the town of about 300 people in southern Kendall County have asked the County Board to borrow up to $420,000 to help build a sewage treatment plant.

The plant is necessary for about half the homes in town, where sewage flows into the town’s storm sewers. Residents in the other half of town have septic tanks and private wells.

The Environmental Protection Agency has filed a complaint against Lisbon for its combined sewers, forcing the village to build a sewage treatment plant. The plant must have enough capacity to bring the homeowners on septic systems into the plant eventually.

Lisbon is paying for at least half the cost of the project, which could reach $1 million, and is hoping to get grant money from the EPA. But officials want to get enough of the project going to show good faith to the EPA.

“We need to get Phase I (engineering) done so we don’t go backward. Then the EPA is fine,” Lisbon Mayor Jay Benckendorf recently told the County Board.

This week, the County Board agreed to have the state’s attorney’s office develop an intergovernmental agreement between the county and Lisbon for the loan. Board members will consider granting the loan and passing the agreement at a later meeting.

Board members debated whether the loan should be interest-free. Some members said the loan should be based on a similar loan the county made to Yorkville for the River Road bridge project. The County Board agreed to loan Yorkville up to $500,000 for six years, interest free.

“If we did it for Yorkville, well, they (Lisbon) showed they have a better balance sheet than Yorkville,” said board member Anne Vickery.

Board member Robert Davidson pointed out the current situation in Lisbon, with sewage emptying into a creek, is a health hazard.

“This isn’t just a bridge to driver across the creek, this has been a problem for years,” he said. “Those citizens down there need a little help.”

Village officials said they would be willing to pay some interest, and board member Jesse Hafenrichter asked why the county would not take them up on it. She suggest the county look at a very small interest, even as low as .25 percent.

“I thought the rationale for the Yorkville loan was that River Road is also a county road, that people throughout the county use it,” she said. “I just thought we should investigate the income a little.”

Lisbon intends to pay back the loan with money it gets through host agreements with several quarries. Lisbon has three big quarries within is boundaries, although one of them has not been operating.

But the Vulcan quarry currently pays $108,059 a year to the city, with 14 years left on the agreement. That fee is reassessed every five years.

The LaFarge quarry will pay $60,000 in host fees for the next two years, then move up to $100,000 a year for the next 18 years.

The reservation about the host fees is that with financial times the way they are, the quarries could face closing.

“The quarry only produces money if it operates,” Hafenrichter said.

The village has no other outstanding loans.

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