City of Rock Island will provide water services and lighting maintenance for nearby Army installation
By SARAH HAYDEN | Moline Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, Ill. | Published: December 2, 2020
ROCK ISLAND, Ill. (Tribune News Service) —The city of Rock Island will soon provide the Rock Island Arsenal with water services, wastewater collection maintenance and exterior lighting, traffic and streetlight maintenance.
Rock Island Mayor Mike Thoms and Rock Island Arsenal Garrison Commander Colonel Todd Allison will sign a 10-year intergovernmental agreement on December 2.
The agreement culminates a three-year effort between the city and the U.S. Army installation to maximize services and increase efficiencies. It is estimated the plan will save the U.S. Army $115,000 a year.
In return, Rock Island Public Works Director Mike Bartels said the city expects to gain $10,000 per month, or about $120,000 per year in additional revenue from the agreement, which is 12% to 15% of the $9.3 million contract. The plan goes into effect March 15, 2021.
"We're very excited about it; we've been working on this for about three years," Bartels said. "We hope to eventually make it into a bigger agreement. The ultimate goal would be to provide them water solely from the city of Rock Island's system. It's not in the current plan, but it's been our goal."
Bartels said the city and other surrounding communities were contacted by the Arsenal a few years ago and a meeting was held to explore if there was interest in partnering with the Arsenal on shared services. In March 2019, Rock Island agreed to provide solid waste collection services to the island and Moline agreed to provide recycling services, replacing contracts with Republic Services and Allied Waste.
Bartels said Rock Island had already been providing wastewater treatment and sewer services to the Arsenal for several decades.
"Any wastewater that comes from the Arsenal goes to the city of Rock Island's sewer treatment system," he said. "It's been going on since the '60s."
In a release, the Rock Island Arsenal Office of Public Affairs said the Arsenal is "committed to enhancing Army readiness and building positive, mutually beneficial relationships with the communities surrounding the installation."
The move is part of ongoing efforts by the federal government to shift maintenance of water services from military installations to local municipalities around the country.
The city of Moline explored the opportunity in August 2019 and passed a resolution to study the operations and maintenance of the water plant. Public Works Director J.D. Schulte said the Arsenal was a 250,000- to 350,000-gallon-a-day customer.
Moline Alderman Mike Wendt, Ward 3, said Tuesday there were some unanswered questions regarding costs and benefits, and that council members tabled a potential agreement with the Arsenal while staff worked through the numbers.
"We wanted to make sure we did our full due diligence and so did staff," Wendt said. "We are a huge proponent in working with our neighbors, and I'm glad Rock Island got a partnership with them."
Bartels said the Arsenal contacted the city after Moline backed out of the opportunity.
"We will also partner with them for the electrical maintenance of the island as well," he said. "It is a really neat plan of municipal and federal government working together to lower the cost of services and it benefits both parties."