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updated: 9/21/2011 5:06 AM

Carpentersville lifts water fee for businesses

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Although Carpentersville trustees successfully repealed a certain water fee exclusive to businesses, the reprieve didn't come without controversy.

Businesses will no longer have to pay a monthly $135 availability fee for their water to support fire suppression systems. Carpentersville had been charging the fee as part of a rate increase package the board approved earlier this spring.

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But Trustee Paul Humpfer said there was too much confusion over how the village was charging it the fee and whether it was calculated as part of a larger availability fee or stands alone on its own.

He also wasn't satisfied with the explanation he received from staff about how the fee evolved and wanted to see proof. Finally, Humpfer was troubled that he did not receive the updated version of the ordinance staff sent out on Monday. He laid eyes on it for the first time during Tuesday's meeting and complained about a lack of transparency.

Humpfer asked that the board table the matter and that the audit and finance commission -- which he chairs -- try to resolve the issue during its meeting Thursday.

"The important thing is we do it the right way, and I don't think we're doing it the right way," Humpfer said.

But the majority of the board didn't want to wait.

Humpfer, and trustees Doug Marks and Pat Schultz have taken issue with the water rates and repeatedly questioned the water rate study that Baxter and Woodman Consulting Engineers created for the village. The three have kept the discussion alive since the board approved the new rates in April and have unsuccessfully tried to get the board to repeal what has already passed. They say the new rates, which will appear on the October bill, are too costly and unfairly burden the residents and businesses.

Two weeks ago, Humpfer presented an alternate proposal that showed an increased water rate to cover system maintenance, but a more modest increase than is already in place starting in 2011. Trustees eventually agreed to eliminate the fire suppression fee for businesses.

That specific change was approved as a way to help struggling village businesses, some of which may have had to pay thousands more per year, according to Humpfer, who abstained from Tuesday's vote.

Village President Ed Ritter was ready to move on.

"The whole point last meeting is we said we'd help out our businesses ... now tonight we have a whole bunch of discussion that was not planned," Ritter told Humpfer. "Now you're using it for a vehicle for something different."

The vote ended discussion on the water rate issue for the rest of the year.

The board is due to re-examine the rate increase in 2012.

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