10% water rate increase on tap

Evanston aldermen tonight are to consider raising the city’s water rates by 10 percent and increasing property taxes to cover rising sewer system costs.

City staff says the water rate increase is needed to pay for planned capital improvements at the water treatment facility and in the distribution system.

A staff-prepared comparison of water rates in 16 other metro area communities shows Evanston — even after the rate increase — would have lower rates than all but two of the other towns.

Water rates per 1,000 gallons in the surveyed communities range from $2.01 in Chicago to $6.26 in Lake Forest, with a median of about $3.65 — the rate charged by Glenview.

Evanston now charges $2.03 per 1,000 gallons. If the increase is approved, the rate would rise to $2.23.

The staff memo also proposes additional increases of 5 percent and 3 percent in 2012 and 2013.

The city’s sewer rate — among the highest in the metro area because of two decades of capital improvements to reduce flooding — would stay the same for most customers under the staff’s plan.

But the plan calls for issuing a total of $17 million in general obligation bonds over the next four years to refinance part of the debt owed for those sewer system projects.

About 22 percent of the cost would be covered by increasing the sewer rate to large non-profit users, but the rest would be generated by an increase in property taxes that would amount to about $38 for every $100,000 of equalized assessed valuation.

Update 10:50 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 10: The Administration and Public Works Committee Monday night took no action on the staff report, but voted to hold a special meeting this fall to discuss the rate increase plans. No date for the meeting was set.

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