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Council cuts water rate for most homeowners

The City Council has approved water rate changes designed to save the average user a buck or so a month.

Currently the city charges a minimum water fee of $10.92 for all users every two months. Under the plan adopted tonight the minimum fee will vary based on the size of the customer’s water meter.

The City Council has approved water rate changes designed to save the average user a buck or so a month.

Currently the city charges a minimum water fee of $10.92 for all users every two months. Under the plan adopted tonight the minimum fee will vary based on the size of the customer’s water meter.

Most homes have the smallest meter size and would be charged a minimum fee of $5.40 every two months. The largest users with the biggest meters – including Northwestern University and the hospitals – would have to pay a minimum fee of $267.80.

The city now charges $1.47 for each 100 cubic feet of water used and includes 700 cubic feet in the basic service fee. Under the new plan that charge will change to $1.52 for each 100 cubic feet of water used and 500 cubic feet will be included in the basic service fee.

There will be no change in the sewer rate which currently is $3.94 per 100 cubic feet of water usage.

Under the new rate schedule a family that uses 2000 cubic feet of water every two months – about the average in town — would see its bi-monthly water and sewer bill reduced by $1.83, to $107. A family that used half as much water would see its bill cut $2.33 to $52.40.

The plan, developed by a city consultant, is designed to have no impact on the city’s total water and sewer revenue. But it should reward conservation by offering proportionately more savings to those who use the least water.

Assistnate Water Superintendent Regina Lookis said the study explored providing a lower sewer rate in the summer to make it cheaper for residents to water their lawns, but concluded that the measure would not help average homeowners.

She said the biggest benefit would go to the largest properties that have a lot of landscaping and that the corresponding rate increase needed to cover costs would wipe out any savings.

In addition, she said, the concept would not promote water conservation and the city’s current billing system isn’t capable of handling the calculation.

Ms. Lookis said it will be about a decade before the bonds used to pay the cost of recent flood control improvements to the city’s sewer system begin to be paid off and the city can start to reduce its sewer rates.

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