Evanston aldermen Monday night voted to increase the city’s water rates by 3 percent starting at the middle of next year.

Utilities Director Dave Stoneback estimated that the increase would cost the average customer about $1 more on each water bill.

Aldermen and City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz emphasized that the 3 percent increase would only be on the water portion of the utility bill — that it would not affect the sewer or sanitation charges.

For a typical customer, water charges make up less than a quarter of the total utility bill.

Bobkiewicz said the city has been inconsistent in the past in setting water rates — letting them go unchanged for years and then imposing a big increase all at once.

He said he wants to be more consistent, and also wants to make sure that there is adequate money to fund improvements to the city’s aging water infrastructure without increasing the city’s debt burden.

The aldermen voted unanimously to introduce the rate increase ordinance Monday. They’re scheduled to take a final vote on the increase on Dec. 10.

The aldermen also gave final approval Monday to the city’s 2013 budget, which engendered far less controversy than budgets in recent years which contained sharper cuts in city staffing and services as well as big tax increases.

The 2013 budget, for the first time in several years, does not contain an increase in property taxes and it calls for a net reduction of only five staff positions.

The aldermen also approved $571,000 in funding for Downtown Evanston, but voted to take more of the money from the Washington National tax increment financing district and less from the Economic Development Fund than had been proposed by city staff.

Update 1 p.m. 11/28/12: The city’s Utilities Department today offered the following comparison of water rates per 1,000 gallons charged consumers by various municipalities:

  • Evanston, after the 3 percent increase: $2.41.
  • Skokie: $4.35.
  • Arlington Heights: $5.05.
  • Chicago, starting Jan. 1:  $2.89.

Update 11 a.m. 12/3/12: City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says Oak Park adopted a 10 percent increase in water rates last week that increases the village’s rate to $6.34 per 1,000 gallons.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. False security – don’t be complacent

    While credit should be given to all city officials for approving Evanston's 2013 budget, we need to remain vigilant regarding our fiscal situation. No tax increases sounds "nice" and makes taxpayers "happy" giving Evanstonians a false sense of security.

    However, the pension problems remain a significant, substantial and growing problem for Evanston.

    While we are hoping that the police pension fund will be 50% funded by 2016 and the firefighter's fund will be 50% funded by 2017, this will be unlikely given that the assumed rate of return of 7% is too high due to the current investment environment and restrictions confronting these funds.

    Remember, for 10 years, from 1998 through 2007, the annualized return for each of these funds were barely above 6% and that was BEFORE the recent financial troubles began, AND investment returns since that timeframe have declined (just look at what your checking account, savings account and CD's are generating)

    For people who want to ignore or avoid this issue, please read today's front page article about the Pension Problems in Puerto Rico:


    Strong, well funded pensions are 80% + funded – OUR GOAL in Evanston is to get to 50%!!

    This is a major issue that we'll need to confront for many, many years to come.

    Please don't be complacent.

    Hopefully Governor Quinn's new marketing campaign, "Squeezy the Pension Python" will raise awareness of the gravity of this issue:


    Yes, this came from the Governor's office.





  2. Breaking water pipes will make the pension look small

    Year of waste and mismanagement by the the council and water department will soon come to bear on the tax payers – the 11 pipe breaks on centeral street are the things to come.   110 miles of water pipe and most of it very old – 100 years plus – Wally is joking about his plan to replace it, most of the money is going to debt and 3 million is being taken for the general fund,  they aren't even fixing a mile a year. As far as the downtown TIFs they never used the money for utilities – but used it for give backs and waste, the aging water pipes will make the pensions look like small pototaes,  

    There is no one talking about this like the pension, but its worst.

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