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Water Rate Could Go Up 3%

Evanston aldermen are considering a rate increase that would bring the average homeowner's water bill from $186.54 to $192.14, city officials say.

Evanston homeowners could soon see their water bills go up by $5.60, on average, if the city council passes an ordinance to raise water rates.

Aldermen voted last week to introduce the ordinance, which would increase water rates by 3 percent beginning July 1, 2013. 

City officials say a water rate increase will eventually be necessary to offset the cost of bonds sold to finance capital improvement projects. 

At last Monday’s meeting, aldermen voted 9-0 to approve introduction of the ordinance. However, Ald. Ann Rainey said she was hesitant about voting to approve the ordinance without further information about how the city’s water rates compare to neighboring communities. 

Evanston’s current water rate is $2.34 per 1,000 gallons, according to utilities director David Stoneback, and could go up to $2.41 per 1,000 gallons. The city sells its water wholesale to the village of Skokie for 98 cents per gallon, and Skokie charges its residents $4.35 per 1,000 gallons. 

Even if the increase is passed, Evanston’s water rate would still be significantly lower than that of its neighboring communities. Nearby, Chicago, Wilmette and Northbrook are the only other municipalities that supply their own water, like Evanston, and all three charge higher rates. 

The city of Chicago charges residents $2.51 per 1,000 gallons, and will raise the rate to $2.89 per 1,000 gallons in January 2013. Wilmette charges its residents about $3.33 per 1,000 gallons, and Northbrook charges $4.08 per 1,000 gallons. 

The 3 percent water rate increase would be the final rate hike in a series of water rate increases that began in 2011, when Evanston’s water rate went up by 10 percent. At that time, utilities staff recommended two more rate increases in the next two years, a hike of 5 percent effective Jan. 1, 2012, and a hike of three percent effective Jan. 1, 2013. Council members approved the 5 percent increase last year. 

Because the city brought in more usage charges for water during the drought this summer, utilities staff say the city could postpone the third water rate increase to next July.  

At last Monday’s council meeting, Ald. Coleen Burrus wanted to know what would be the effect of postponing the water rate increase even further. Stoneback told her that the utilities department would probably defer an $85,000 engineering study to improve the system’s functionality. He also said the department might cut back on hiring some seasonal positions. 

City manager Wally Bobkiewicz cautioned that the city would lose the momentum of regular increases of smaller amounts, and might need to pass a much higher water rate hike later. 

“The council has been inconsistent over an extended period of time with how those rates have been adjusted,” he said. “What we’ve heard from you is you’d rather have a flatter line.”

Both Ald. Jane Grover and Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said they supported the water rate hike. 

“We [would] still have the lowest water rates than any of our neighbors and other municipalities in the Chicago area,” she said.

Jim December 04, 2012 at 10:10 PM
There are plenty of reasons to leave Evanston, Cook County and Illinois. This is a new small reason but what these folks do not understand is that once begun, an out migration builds on itself and is very difficult to reverse. The people who supposedly manage Evanston should ask themselves what they would do if they could not tax more or raise rates particularly in tough times. But they never ask themselves that question.
millie December 04, 2012 at 11:19 PM
Both Ald. Jane Grover and Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said they supported the water rate hike. “We [would] still have the lowest water rates than any of our neighbors and other municipalities in the Chicago area,” she said. ALDER GROVER SAYS WE HAVE LOWER WATER RATES THEN NEIGHBORS. DOES THAT MEAN SHE FAVORS LOWERING PROPERTY TAXES SINCE OURS ARE HIGHER THEN NEIGHBORS. DID THE CITY COUNCIL COLLECT THE WATER BILL FROM THE GOLF COURSE THAT WAS PAST DUE. OR DID THEY JUST SAY FORGET IT.
J C December 05, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Lake Michigan has 1.6 quadrillion gallons of water, And yet we are banned from watering our lawns. Just how much of this does the city claim to own ? Great lakes facts. VOLUME 6 quadrillion gallons of fresh water; one-fifth of the world's fresh surface water (only the polar ice caps and Lake Baikal in Siberia contain more); 95 percent of the U.S. supply; 84 percent of the surface water supply in North America. Spread evenly across the continental U.S., the Great Lakes would submerge the country under about 9.5 feet of water.
J C December 05, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Almost forgot to ask, Why do we elect gangsters to run our city county and state?
Jim December 05, 2012 at 05:34 PM
For those of you interested in further asking "why", go to Kahnacademy.org and search "pensions". Then click on "Illinois pensions". You will be treated to a 5 minute video explanation of what our current pols have done to us. Illinois is currently 65 BILLION unfunded liability in it's pension funds.

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