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Local News

Joliet utilities department wants $1 million technology upgrade

JOLIET – The Joliet City Council, already leery of likely hikes in water and sewer rates, is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a nearly $1 million technological upgrade for the utilities department.

The council has twice before delayed a vote on the system, linking it to the utilities department request for rate hikes to fund operations and future infrastructure needs.

Utilities Director James Eggen presented it again at a council workshop meeting Monday, saying the system will save money in the long run while the cost of implementation only will go up next year.

“It’s going to take a year to implement the program,” Eggen told the council. “The longer we wait, the longer it gets pushed off into the future for us to see these savings.”

The Work Order Management System implements Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping Eggen said will save $40,000 a month as the city is able to improve efficiency and better manage its work crews.

It also includes a Citizen Request System he says will allow residents to track their reports of problems and provide the city with the means of reporting to residents when problems are fixed.

The system also could be used by other city departments, including public works, roads and neighborhood services, Eggen said.

“Everyone’s going to benefit from this,” he told the council. “It improves services citywide.”

The Cityworks system provided by Trimble Navigation Ltd. and Azteca Systems Inc. would cost the city $964,000 to implement and another $129,000 a year to maintain.

There was little discussion of the proposal Monday. But council members at previous meetings have been wary of the costs in light of looming rate hikes for water and sewer.

Eggen previously sought council approval for a 9 percent rate hike Oct. 1 to be followed in coming years by hikes of 8, 6 and 5 percent. The council delayed a vote, saying it first wanted a consultant to look at the department for potential cost savings.

Walgreens liquor

The council also will vote Tuesday on liquor licenses requested by Walgreens for four stores at 1163 W. Jefferson St., 2101 W. Jefferson St., 1514 Essington Road and 4822 Caton Farm Road.

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk, also the city’s liquor commissioner, said Walgreens also had requested liquor licenses for two others stores on Cass Street and Larkin Avenue. Those licenses were rejected because the stores were too close to Joliet Central High School and Joliet Catholic Academy, he said.

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