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.