After learning that the City has been fully subsidizing the water bill at the State prison in Canton during the ongoing budget impasse, Rep Unes (R-East Peoria) got directly involved in the matter over the weekend by making an emergency contact to the Governor’s Office. The State of Illinois currently owes the City of Canton over $600,000 in unpaid water bills, as it has served to maintain one of the prison facility’s most basic utilities. Canton city officials met on Saturday for a budget meeting, wherein options for moving forward with this issue were discussed. Suggestions included suspending services to the facility, imposing late fees upon the State, and/or taking out a large loan in order to continue covering the costs of keeping the facility operational.
“This is unacceptable, and I am disappointed that the City of Canton and its citizens have been placed into this extraordinarily difficult situation due to the dysfunction of our state. Having to choose between sacrificing the health and safety of inmates and prison guards alike by suspending basic utilities and burdening the city’s taxpayers by taking out a high-interest loan to financially subsidize a State facility is simply unconscionable. This is just the most recent example in my district alone for why the games in Springfield must end so that we can finally reach a budget resolution, and I think that this situation in particular helps illustrate just how dire the circumstances are,” said Unes.
After reaching out to the Governor’s Office over the weekend, Rep. Unes was told that the City could expect to receive a sum of $100,000 this week, as discussions on future payments remain ongoing. Rep. Unes describes this upcoming payment as “a start,” and has followed-up with officials already again today in an effort to maintain immediate progress on this issue.
Having previous municipal experience on the East Peoria City Council, Rep. Unes has an enhanced understanding and appreciation for the challenges that the City of Canton are faced with, in light of the State’s inability to uphold its assumed obligations. He recognizes that local municipalities all around the state have no shortage of their own problems to work through and resolve, and so having to take on the State’s problems on top of that can be overwhelming.
“The City certainly appreciates all that Representative Unes has done to help alleviate some of the financial hardship this has caused the City of Canton. The State’s budget issues have a trickle down affect. Providing water and sewer services not only affects the IRCC inmates, but the State being this far behind affects our ability to meet our budgetary commitments to businesses, citizens and employees. Representative Unes’ willingness to contact the Governor’s office over the weekend and work quickly towards a resolution benefits all of the parties involved,” said Canton City Attorney Nancy Rabel.
“I will continue to advocate for the City in this regard for as long as it remains necessary. However, I sincerely hope that the State can instead soon find a way to fulfill this very basic and important responsibility,” said Unes.