CHICAGO - Akron, Ohio, could raise up to $250 million to fund a university scholarship program for the city's public school students by leasing its sewer system under a first-of-its-kind proposal floated by Mayor Donald Plusquellic.

The plan calls for the city to enter into a long-term lease of the system in a transaction that could launch a new front in the move by the nation's governments to privatize existing assets for an upfront cash windfall. Officials aim to close the deal by the end of the year, and to that end have recently hired a financial adviser and formed a 12-member advisory group charged with recommending the transaction's terms.

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