The Homer Glen Village Board will not vote tonight on a $50 million bond issue up for discussion during a public hearing, according to Mayor Jim Daley. But the primary focus of that bond issue is a pending legal battle to take control of the village's water services, he said.
The Village of Homer Glen issued notice via its website, www.homerglenil.org, that a public hearing will be held at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 24. This followed the issuance to media Saturday, July 21, of the agenda for the board's regular meeting, which included information on the hearing. It was also publicly announced through notices in The Homer Horizon and SouthtownStar.
The purpose of the hearing is "to receive public comments on the proposal to sell bonds in the amount of $50 million for the purposes of funding certain economic development objectives, numerous capital improvement projects and certain costs associated with issuance of the bonds," according to the notice.
Daley said that the bond issue deals with a number of issues, but despite the generalized wording of the agenda, he said "a good portion is" dedicated to the Village's interest in taking control of its water line and service, currently controlled by American Lake Water Company and Illinois American Water, respectively.
"Nobody is intending to go out in the streets and spend $50 million," Daley said. "We've committed to people. We are going to take care of the Illinois American Water issue."
The public hearing will take place at Village Hall, 14917 S. Founders Crossing in Homer Glen, at the start of the regular Village Board meeting.
Daley said the board has no intention of voting on the issue at the meeting, however, as Village ordinance requires officials to wait seven days before voting on an issue up for public hearing. Daley said he intends to call a special meeting seven days after the discussion, though, with plans to vote on the bond issue then.
If approved, Daley said the Village would immediately issue "Series A" bonds, which constitute roughly $24 million of the overall $50 million, with "Series B" to be issued at a later date.
Daley said the move is intended to show Illinois American Water that Homer Glen is serious about moving forward with its plans — along with those of the four other municipalities that form the Northern Will County Water Agency: Lemont, Romeoville, Woodridge and Bolingbrook — to take control of its water.
"We're sending a very serious message to Illinois American Water," Daley said. "I'm as serious as a heart attack."
Daley noted that while the other communities involved are committed to this cause, they are not all necessarily making similar plans for bond issues.
"They have their own ways of funding," he said.
Village Manager Cameron Davis noted that the next step after issuing the bonds is to make an offer for purchase of the line and service. He noted that a letter has been drafted to do just that, though the offer is not official until it is sent.
"If it has not been done already, the intension is to do it soon," he said.
Assuming the companies involved do not accept the offer — which is likely considering the insistence of IAW public relations representative Rosemaria DiBenedetto-Genova that the company is "not for sale" — the Village expects the agency to enter into an eminent domain battle for the pipeline and service. And the legal fees are likely the first set of costs the Village would incur in this process.
"We're viewing that to be significant," Daley said.
"Significant," in this case, means "a couple million dollars," according to Daley. So the "good portion" of the bond issue is intended for either Homer Glen's part in the purchase price of taking over its water service, along with the rest of the agency, or a combination of eminent domain legal fees and ultimately a purchase price that would be set by the court, should the agency win its battle.
Daley said despite the large amount of cash for which the Village is considering issuing bonds, he does not see this as a cause for concern from residents. He said he sees this as a realization of a promise officials made to take control of the village's water.
"This is a very positive thing for Homer Glen," he said.
DiBenedetto-Genova said on the phone Tuesday, July 24, that her client did not have an immediate response to the news, but noted that Mike Smyth, senior manager of field services and production of IAW, would likely be in attendance at the public hearing.
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