Committee recommends higher water-sewer charges

By on March 12, 2010

Village Board to vote on proposal at March 15 meeting
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Elburn Village Board members in recent weeks have debated the best way to raise water and sewer revenue, with ideas ranging from charging a customer fee to hiking usage rates. On Monday, they decided the village should do both.

The Committee of the Whole recommended that the village establish a $10 base fee ($5 for water and $5 for sewer) and increase usage rates to $6.10 per 100 cubic feet ($3.50 for water and $2.59 for sewer).

The Village Board will vote on the recommendation during its next meeting, Monday, March 15.

Elburn officials determined in February that the village needs to charge more for water and sewer service because of rising costs, declining revenue and an aging water and sewer system needing repairs,

“It’s a bitter pill that we have to swallow, but it’s been neglected for so long,” Trustee Patricia Romke said Monday.

The village has not raised its water and sewer rates in many years. Currently, the sewer usage rate is $2 per 100 cubic feet, and the water rate is $2.69 per 100 cf.

Trustee Bill Grabarek did not agree with the Committee of the Whole’s recommendation Monday. Grabarek said the proposed increases in water and sewer charges would impact low users on limited incomes, including seniors and single people, the hardest. He believes that the village should raise usage rates more and charge a lower base fee.

“My feeling is (when the Village Board votes on the recommendation), I’m probably going to say ‘nay,’” Grabarek said.

In addition, the reserve fund that the village draws on to pay for water and sewer capital improvements has dwindled. By the end of the fiscal year this June, that capital fund will total just $53,000, compared to $543,000 five years ago, Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven said. Several major water and sewer projects needed this year alone will cost more than $100,000.

With the rate increase proposed Monday, annual water and sewer operations, costing $1.15 million, could “break even” in 2010-11; the hike would boost revenue by about $303,000 annually, Nevenhoven said.

Monthly water and sewer operating revenue has fallen short of operating costs by about $25,000 monthly for more than a year, Nevenhoven said.

The $10 base fee would raise more than $150,000 annually for the water and sewer capital improvement fund, village officials said. Their goal to build up the fund to be able to pay for future unexpected and planned projects, including painting two water towers for $400,000.

How much would
water-sewer bills go up?

The following chart shows estimated increases in monthly water and sewer bills for households and businesses if the Village Board approves the new base fee and usage rates proposed on Monday.
Current bill  /  Proiected bill
$10    $16.10
$10.38    $22.17
$14.07    $28.24
$18.76    $34.32
$23.45    $40.38
$42.21    $64.66
$70.35    $101.08
$93.80    $131.43
$150.08    $204.27
$178.22    $240.69