By Leisa Zigman
CASEYVILLE, Ill. (KSDK) - Thousands of people in the Metro East have to come up with anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000 to hook up to the public sewer system. If they refuse, they could have their water shut off and a lien placed on their property.
NewsChannel 5 has heard an earful from people who don't have the money and can't believe the government is forcing them to pay for something they don't need or want.
At the same time, many people in the Caseyville Township have been waiting decades for sewer service and they're happy to pay. They say it will increase their property value.
Others like Jack Hickman can't afford it even if the township offers a payment plan.
"Payment plans don't do it for me. I'm broke. I live on my social security and my military pension," Hickman said. "I see none of my pension because it all goes to pay for my house. As far as my social security goes, it pays the bills and gives me maybe $100 a week to live on."
Hickman added, "Philosophically, I object to destroying an (aeration) system that works perfectly well. The system is on my private property."
Hickman and others said their septic tanks and aeration systems work just fine but the township is demanding they take it out and hook up to the public sewer system at a cost of thousands of dollars.
The township's supervisor said this is not a new issue. In fact, he explained the first ordinance mandating 100 percent participation in the sewer hookup was passed in 1965. He says the public sewer system is wanted and needed by most residents. Eight thousand homes have been hooked up over the years, and the latest phase involves 300 homes near Jack Hickman.
NewsChannel 5 asked about people like Mr. Hickman who cannot afford the hook-up?
The supervisor said he doesn't want to fine anyone or put a lien on their property. He's taking names of those who cannot afford the sewer hook-up and hoping to work something out, but at this point there is no solution.
What do you think about the ordinance? Is this a case of government overreach or good governance that will increase property values and public health?