Water from the city of Mount Sterling is flowing to Western Illinois Correctional Center, but money to pay for that water isn't flowing back from the state. Illinois owes the city of 2,000 people more than $300,000.
Local officials said they may decide to turn off the spigot at next week's city council meeting. But Mayor Dane Flesner said if that happens, he worries the state may just decide to close the prison, which would cost local jobs.
"It's disgusting that they owe us that money," he said. "To be piggybacking off of a small town like ours and owing us that much money. I see the argument on both sides, but I'm looking big picture. I have too much respect for the employees and their families and all that stuff to make a knee-jerk decision on trying to stand up to the state of Illinois."
The Illinois Department of Corrections said payments are behind because of the budget impasse, but it's paid Mount Sterling more than $287,000 in the past six months. A spokeswoman declined to say what action the state would take if the water is turned off.