Solution still uncertain for service’s budget shortfall
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURNâ€”Elburn trustees do not all agree that a customer fee is the best or only way to raise water and sewer revenue.
Three trustees suggested Monday that the village should raise usage rates.
â€œAt least we’d be saying, ‘We’re going to charge you for the true cost of the water and sewer, not charge you a surcharge,’â€ trustee William Grabarek said.
Village officials in February proposed a combined water and sewer customer fee of $20 monthly in addition to the existing usage fees, and since have proposed lowering the base fee to $10, beyond usage charges.
The usage rates have been the same for many yearsâ€”$2 per cubic foot (cf) for sewer and $2.69 per 100 cf for water, which some trustees think is too low.
â€œWe have underpriced our water and sewer for a long time,â€ Grabarek said.
Grabarek suggested raising the combined water and sewer usage rate from $4.69 to $7 per 100 cf.
For more than a year, water and sewer operations have cost the village nearly $29,000 more per month than the village collects in water and sewer revenue. Village officials’ goal is for water and sewer service charges to match the cost of providing them.
â€œAt $7 (combined water and sewer usage rate), we would make up the deficit in two years,â€ Grabarek said.
Charging that rate also would increase revenue in the water and sewer capital fund to pay for future system improvements, Grabarek said.
If the village raises usage rates, it would encourage water conservation, trustee Ken Anderson said.
Grabarek said seniors, single people and other low users would not pay as much under the higher rate as they would if the village imposed the customer fee.
In response to Grabarek’s rate-hike proposal, Village President Dave Anderson said, â€œAn increase like that for high users is going to be prohibitive.â€
Another idea for changing water and sewer fees that trustee Jeff Walter supports is to raise usage rates and to impose a temporary customer fee to build up the water and sewer capital fund.
Walter asked village staff to determine this week how much water and sewer bills would increase for certain households under the various proposed fee scenarios.
The Village Board will continue its discussion of water and sewer charges during the Committee of the Whole meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, March 8, at Village Hall.
What area villages charge
Water: Minimum bill of $26.76 every three months for up to 6,000 gallons, plus $3.84 for every additional 1,000 gallons
Sewer: $32.28 minimum for up to 6,000 gallons, plus $5.38 per 1,000 gal.
Water: Minimum monthly bill of $5 including $3.60 per 1,000 gallons for water ($2.69/100 cf)
Sewer: Minimum monthly bill of $5 including $2.67 per 1,000 gallons ($2/100 cf)
Water and sewer: $15.50 customer charge per month, plus $2.75 per 1,000 gallons for water, and $2.76 per 1,000 gallons for sewer