The increase in the cost of water is bound to start a trend, both tightening faucets and running them less.
The New Lenox Village Board Monday approved an ordinance to increase the price tag for water on a graduated scale and establishing a $32 monthly water line charge.
Instead of the 6,000 gallon minimum, "we've restructured the water rates so that the line charge covers the cost of delivering the water to your household or business," said Kurt Carroll, village administrator. With the new fee structure, some people will actually realize a lower rate. People who use only 1,000 gallons a month will see a reduced rate.
Infrastructure improvements in Chicago and Oak Lawn are moving forward. The upgrades carry a price tag of $100 million-plus. The ripple effects have spread throughout the southwest suburbs.
The restructure fee schedule features three levels:
Level 1: less than 9,000 gallons of water used a month will cost 3.59 per 1,000 gallons used
Level 2: 9,000 to less than 20,000 gallons of water used a month will cost $4.59 per 1,000 gallons used
Level 3: 20,000 gallons and over of water used a month will cost $7.00 per 1,000 gallons of water used.
Additionally, in order to keep pace with inflations costs of water production and distribution, the monthly water line charge is anticipated to increase by 5 percent annually, pending a yearly review of need by the Village board. Trustee Ray Tuminello insisted on an annual review just to make sure that the 5 percent increase is absolutely necessary.
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If Chicago, Oak Lawn or Tinley Park increases its wholesale water rates after March 1, then New Lenox's rates will reflect the change. Chicago is also scheduled to raise its rates by 15 percent in 2013, 2014 and 2015, said Kurt Carroll, village administrator.
In April 2011, New Lenox residents got soaked with a $5 monthly increase on their bill. That was just the beginning. Village residents can anticipate rates rising steadily over the next three years, said Mayor Tim Baldermann.
"We're not making anything off of this," said Baldermann. It's all going to pay for infrastructure, which he said should have been conducted gradually over the years.
New Lenox taps into Lake Michigan via Oak Lawn, which moves it out to Tinley Park, Orland Park, Oak Forest and Mokena. Frankfort does not rely on Lake Michigan water. Instead it utilizes a system of aquifers.
Since Chicago and Oak Lawn are passing along the costs to its suburban users, the smaller municipalities are negotiating a fair rate that each will pay for improvements.
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