COLLINSVILLE, Ill. (KMOV) – City officials in the Metro East say Ameren Illinois has failed to collect taxes for years and it’s time to pay up, but it is the customers who will be footing the bill for the mistake.
Like many Illinois cities, Collinsville is supposed to receive taxes from utilities, but an audit found Ameren hasn’t been collecting and therefore hasn’t been paying these cities since 2008.
Collinsville, along with Maryville, Alton, Edwardsville and Columbia sued Ameren in 2012 to recoup the money and Collinsville City Council approved a settlement Monday night.
According to the settlement, residential customers will be billed in equal installments of $10 a month for up to four years to help recover the taxes.
“That’s a lot of money, we already pay enough. So another $10 dollars on top of that, that’s a lot,” said Ameren Illinois customer Liz Michaels.
The settlement will not affect all Ameren Illinois customers, but Collinsville City Attorney Steve Giacoletto estimates it is around 250 from his city and the number in the other cities involved in the lawsuit varies.
The exact dollar amount owed by Ameren to these cities will be determined once the audit is complete, but Giacoletto said it’s an average of about $100 dollars per household.
So why did Ameren fail to collect the taxes?
“There is some discrepancy in the amount of municipal taxes, required by the City’s ordinance, which should have been collected from some Collinsville residents. For example, Ameren Illinois may not have been aware of new residences established within the City,” Ameren Spokesperson Tucker Kennedy said in a statement to News 4.
The situation now has customers like Michaels left wondering if they’ll see a bigger bill in the coming months.
“I haven't been contacted, I heard about on the news but I haven't been contacted,” said Michaels.
Kennedy said it won’t show up on affected customers’ bills for at least four months but he said they also will not be sending any notifications.
“It would be up to Collinsville to alert the residents about the additional taxes they are asking us to collect,” Kennedy said in an email.
According to Giacoletto, the cities will not get paid until Ameren has collected the owed money.
The cities of Maryville and Alton both approved settlements in recent city council meetings. The City of Edwardsville says they are looking at other options for ways to recoup the taxes they are owed from Ameren.