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The Village of Niles is expected to decide this summer whether to buy water from Evanston.

Journal & Topics Newspapers quotes Niles Village Manager Steven Vinezeano as saying the decision to go with Evanston, or continue to get water service from Chicago needs to be made within the next 30 to 90 days.

Niles and Morton Grove officials met with Chicago Water Commisisoner Thomas Powers last week in an effort to see whether there might be any flexibility in Chicago’s rate hike plans.

Chicago raised its rates 25 percent in 2012 and then 15 percent in 2013 and this year, with another 15 percent hike scheduled for next January.

Niles officials say they were told at the meeting that after next year Chicago plans to tie its rate to the consumer price index, with increases capped at 5 percent per year.

Evanston officials have said they can provide water to Niles, Park Ridge and Morton Grove at a cost substantially less that what Chicago plans to charge, even after accounting for bond payments for the cost of constructing a new pipeline to serve the communities.

And, the Evanston officials say, they’ll be able to still provide a reasonable rate of return to Evanston taxpayers on the water plant infrastructure while beating Chicago’s rates.

The Chicago rates are subject to revision by the Chicago City Council at any time, while Evanston has offered to tie its rates to an industry-wide cost recovery formula.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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