Thursday, April 13, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Starting on June 1, the City of Chicago will raise water rates by 1.83 percent. Since the Village of Maywood purchases its own water from Chicago, the city’s rate increase will automatically be passed onto village residents in the form of higher water bills unless the board takes explicit action to set a different rate for residents.
During an April 12 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting, Village Manager Willie Norfleet Jr. recommended against charging residents more for water despite Chicago’s rate increase.
“I would hope that we don’t pass the cost onto residents and use efficiency to recoup that [increased cost],” Norfleet said. No member of the board objected.
Norfleet said that the village purchases close to $3.6 million in water from Chicago each year. A 2 percent increase in the current rate would amount to an approximately $72,000 increase.
Since the village’s water fund is an enterprise fund, meaning that it needs to be self-sustaining — and expenditures must be balanced with revenues that the fund generates on its own — the city’s rate increase would either have to be balanced with new revenue (mainly in the form of higher water rates for residents) or cuts in spending.
Norfleet said that the village will focus on reducing the amount of delinquent water payments that are outstanding by “getting people who haven’t been paying [their water bills to pay],” fixing numerous water leaks that lead to wasted water and by “getting a better handle on meters” that aren’t reading properly.
Norfleet said that he’s confident the village can find enough cost-savings to offset the city’s rate increase. In June 2015, Norfleet estimated that the village collected around $333,000 within several days after he ordered that shutoff notices be sent to residents more than 60 days behind on their water payments.
Norfleet said that the board could still raise residents’ water rates at a later date if the village can’t find enough cost-savings to offset Chicago’s increase.
Currently, Maywood purchases its water from Chicago at a rate of $3.82 per 1,000 gallons. In 2016, there was no cost increase; however, in all but eight of the years before that, the city increased the water rate.
Chicago increased its water rate each year by 15 percent from 2008 until 2010. In 2012, it increased the rate by 25 percent. And from 2013 until 2015, the city increased the rate by 15 percent each year.
Attorney Michael Jurusik said that those rate are based on increases in the Consumer Price Index. Jurusik said that Maywood’s rate increase is the same as all other municipalities that purchase water from Chicago, including Bellwood, Broadview and Melrose Park. VFP