Elburn residents may see water, sewer rate increase

By on April 11, 2013

Village considers adding a finance director
by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Residents may soon see an increase in their water and sewer rates if next year’s budget is approved. The increase was discussed at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

Based on average usage of 5,000 gallons of water a month, households will see their rates go from approximately $55 per month to $61 per month, for a total increase of $6 a month, or $72 a year, Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven said.

According to Nevenhoven, about four years ago the village realized it was losing approximately $20,000 per month, due to the difference between what it cost to service residents and what the village was charging them.

In addition, Nevenhoven said that the village has put off capital improvement projects of the water and sewer systems for so long, that it’s necessary to make that investment now.

“We very much have an ancient system,” he said. “These funds will get us started.”

The big ticket items for this coming fiscal year include $130,000 for streets and storm sewer work, $120,000 for improvements in the water system and $115,000 for improvements to the sewer treatment system. In addition, $300,000 will be set aside for engineering and other start-up work for the waste-water treatment plant modernization project.

The village will review the rates each year. Nevenhoven recommended a 2 percent increase or one based on the Chicago area consumer price index, whichever is greater.

Next year’s budget also calls for the addition of a finance director. The position, if approved, will be a salaried position, with an annual salary of $79,000 for a 32-hour work week, plus attendance at board meetings.

“We can afford it now,” he said. “This year will be the most expensive year. Next year, we’ll start to get some payback.”

According to Anderson, the village will no longer have the services of a financial consultant, a savings of $14,200, and a finance director would also take on the responsibilities of the village treasurer, for an additional savings of $5,000.

Village Administrator Erin Willrett said the finance director will be responsible for getting the village in good financial shape, including implementing capital asset and improvement programs.

The position will be appointed by Anderson and approved by the board.

“Let’s see how it works for a year,” Anderson said. “The person won’t be an employee; it will be a one-year appointment.”

Anderson also said that hiring a finance director will free up more of Willrett’s time to focus on economic development for the village.

The budget includes a 3 percent salary increase for village employees, and a 5 percent increase for the cost of medical benefits. The new medical plan begins in November, so the actual increase is unknown at this time.

Willrett, whose current annual salary is $99,744, will forego her 3 percent increase for the coming fiscal year.

Anderson corrected a statement he made at the previous Committee of the Whole meeting, in which he said he did not support hiring a full-time police officer. Anderson said he did not support hiring an additional full-time police officer, but he does support a full-time replacement position.

“My concern was in adding a police officer in addition to replacing the one that’s out on leave,” he said.

Trustee Jerry Schmidt still had concerns about the police budget.

“I haven’t slept much this last week,” he said on Monday. “I look at our police budget and our population. I just can’t vote for this with a clear conscience. I think we’re overstaffed for 5,000 people.”

Schmidt said he would rather see the money spent on improving the aesthetics of downtown Elburn.

“Go down to Plainfield—they’ve done a great job with their downtown,” he said. “I’d like to see some bricks and mortar at the end of the year.”

Trustee Bill Grabarek however said he did not know how to decrease the police force without putting the officers’ lives in jeopardy.

“The police are out there, putting their lives on the line,” he said. “You never know what you’re going to pull over.”

The fiscal year budget revenues are estimated at $4.5 million, not including the increases in the water and sewer rates. The expenditures are estimated at $4.8 million, which includes the finance director position and a replacement police officer position.

The budget will come before the board on Monday, April 15. The fiscal year will begin May 1.