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Evanston officials plan to more than double capital spending on the city’s water system next year and impose the second in a planned series of three 10-percent water rate hikes to help cover the cost.

Next year’s proposed budget calls for spending $18.4 million on water system capital improvements, compared to $7.1 million this year and $4.2 million in 2013.

The city has been deferring capital spending to get through tight economic times, but with the city’s fiscal prospects improving, officials believe they can catch up on deferred projects next year.

The capital projects will be paid for with a mix of money from fund reserves, new borrowing and increased revenue.

The rate hike is expected to generate about $625,000 in new income.

Not included in the budget is new revenue from selling water to Des Plaines through the Northwest Water Commission.

In a memo to aldermen distributed Thursday, Stoneback said the Des Plaines deal is expected to generate about $575,000 a year in increased net revenue to the city’s water utility, after accounting for additional expenses for electricity, natural gas and chemicals to process the estimated 5 million gallons per day Des Plaines would need.

The pipeline between Evanston and the Northwest Water Commission now is operating at less than half of its capacity, so Stoneback says no additional infrastructure will be needed to deliver the added water to the commission.

But a new connection between the commission’s reservoir, located in Des Plaines, and the Des Plaines water system will be needed. That pipeline, Stoneback says, may be completed by midyear.

Assuming water service to Des Plaines starts on schedule, it could reduce the need for the third planned Evanston water rate hike in 2016.

Water system capital improvement projects planned for next year include:

  • $3.5 million to improve systems reliabilty at the plant
  • $2.25 million to repair and paint the city’s two above-ground water tanks, or standpipes.
  • $2 million to repair or replace finished water storage tanks at the water plant, some of which are now over 100 years old.
  • $4.22 million for water main improvements on Sheridan Road from Chicago Avenue to Isabella Street.
  • $3.56 million for water main improvements on various other streets.

City officials say that even after the water rate increase, Evanston residents will have the lowest water rates in the region. But because the city has spent far more than many other communities in recent years on sewer system improvements, the combined water and sewer rate is in the middle of the range of 19 communities included in the comparison.

The City Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on next year’s budget at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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3 Comments

  1. I am sure that once these

    I am sure that once these capital improvements are completed, we will see these temporary fees rolled back. Does everybody think that my statement is true or false?

  2. Looks like NO discussion on water rate increases?

    Staff is giving the council memos prior to the meeting.  This water utility is such a mess, the council just wants to cover it up.

    Over the last few years- lets look at a few screw ups

    1) Transponer project -10% of the customers meter reading were not getting recorded – that because they were late on getting the project done.

    2) SCDA – project numerous change orders for schedule and final costs

    3) Sheridan Road project – could not coordinate with the other department causing the Bike path project to be delay- also they do not have real costs for it in the budget yet!

    These projects have mentioned on in the few million dollar range, does anyone think they can run a much large project without messing it up?

    Beyond the fact they can't run engineering projects- the entire finanical operation is very questionable.  Why can't they not factor in the capital costs from the other customers?

    I have heard the water tank report is out, but it has not been given to the public. More private discussion?

    For well over a year now I have been asking for a consultant to review the entire business to dettermime if its even finanical viable- yet the council refuses- they are just happy to continue to rip the residents of Evanston off with higher and higher water bills!

    1. Not shown in budget yet

      I assume aldermen will add project like this [see below] like the Federal government did.

      Study to watch grass grow—as a form of art
      Study on how to make students laugh—as social project
      Treadmills for shrimp
      Swedish massages for rabbits

      Etc.

      With an alderman owning a pet store, the last two will clearly be in—though not the euthanasia as the Federal government did.

      Hopefully the Council will not spend $25 billion like the Federal government did

      http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/swedish-massages-rabbits-taxpayer-expenses/story?id=26373805

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