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Normal council approves annual budget amid bickering over water quality

NORMAL COUNCIL MAR 1 PIC 2

NORMAL (WEEK) - A four-hour Normal Town Council meeting Monday night included disagreement whether Mayor Chris Koos' neighborhood has rusty water.

The argument happened as the council voted 6-1 to approve about a $138 million budget for the next fiscal year.

One of the reasons Stan Nord voted no was because the town government is planning to spend $4.75 million to upgrade water service to Rivian Automotive. Leaders hope such a project will help lure other businesses to West Normal.

Nord said the desire for better water service near Rivian is based on speculation, while there are definite needs to improve water quality in the mayor's neighborhood and other places. .

"We're now giving up projects where neighborhoods have got failing water pipes that are corroding, and we've got rust going through there, just like the mayor's neighborhood, said Nord.

Mayor Chris Koos responded...

"Mr. Nord, let's be quite clear. I do not have rusty water in my neighborhood. I do not have it, period."

"You keep bringing that up. It's not true," Koos said.

The budget includes additional funding for drop box recycling, a parking study, and some park improvements, while at the same time providing non-union government workers lower than expected cost of living increases due to low inflation.

During the budget process, the town council also decided to forgo for a year a previously planned 2% increase in water rates, aiming to provide some relief for residents struggling financial due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Doing without the water rate hike is expected to cost the town's water fund $217,000 in revenue.

Howard Packowitz

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