The City of Evanston today filed a motion seeking a default judgment against the Village of Skokie in the city’s suit seeking higher rates for the water it provides the village.

Evanston Corporation Counsel Grant Farrar says the village has failed to file an answer to the city’s complaint in the suit, which was filed Sept. 26.

The village requested an extension of time to file its response, and Cook County Circuit Judge Peter Flynn gave the village until Dec. 6 to do so.

The village has since requested that the case be reassigned to a different judge, and the city’s request for a default judgment now is scheduled to be heard Jan. 2 by Judge Celia G. Gamrath.

The city’s complaint alleges that Skokie would be unjustly enriched by more than $1 million a year if it were allowed to pay Evanston the roughly $0.70 per 1,000 gallon rate it has proposed, rather than the $2.06 rate adopted by the Evanston City Council in September.

Under an interim extension of a now-expired 20-year contract, Skokie has been paying $1.0797 per 1,000 gallons.

Evanston concedes in its complaint that under Illinois law it has a responsibility, because of life-safety concerns, to continue to provide water to Skokie until the village can find another supplier, but argues that despite being notified of Evanston’s intent to negotiate new contract terms over five years ago, Skokie has not taken steps to find a new supplier.

Evanston argues that the rate it wants has been appropriately calculated using American Water Works Association Manual of Water Supply Practices.

Evanston recently agreed to provide water to two new customers, Morton Grove and Niles, at a rate of $0.78 per 1,000 gallons. But those municipalities will spend $80 million to build infrastructure to connect to Evanston — and will be responsible for maintaining water pressure in their own distribution lines.

By contrast, Skokie relies on Evanston to provide water pressure throughout its distribution system.

The rate Evanston is demanding is just over half the $3.88 rate that the City of Chicago charges the more than 60 suburban communities that it provides with water service.

Related stories

Evanston sues Skokie over water rate (9/27/17)

Evanston plans 91 percent Skokie wholesale water rate hike (9/24/17)

Update 1/2/18: At a hearing on the water rate dispute today, an attorney for the village put in an appearance and Judge Gamrath gave Evanston leave to file an amended complaint by Jan. 16 with a response from Skokie due within 28 days after that. The next court hearing on the case is scheduled for Feb. 27.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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