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Article updated: 12/15/2011 11:18 PM

DuPage Water Commission pledges to monitor rate hike money

By Justin Kmitch

DuPage Water Commission officials, bracing for the initial 25 percent rate hike from Chicago in two weeks, say they will be watching where those revenues go from day one.

Chicago's 2012 budget includes rate hikes of 25 percent next year and 15 percent in each of the following three years to cover the cost of water and sewer infrastructure upgrades.

The combined effects of the city and commission's corresponding rate hikes mean DuPage municipalities will pay 30 percent more beginning Jan. 1. That would be followed by annual increases of 20 percent, 18 percent and 17 percent. The commission portions of those hikes are 5 percent the first two years, 3 percent in the third year and 2 percent in the fourth year.

John Spatz, Executive Director of the DuPage Water Commission, said he plans to meet with the commission's municipal customers during the first week of January

"The purpose of the meeting is for us to see what we're going to decide we'd like to see in reports coming from the city of Chicago to hold them accountable," Spatz said during Thursday night's commission meeting. "We're not going to wait until June to get a report and then say 'This isn't adequate.'"

Spatz said he has an idea what he'd like to see but wants to make sure the municipalities' questions are answered as well.

"We want accountability that capital money is going to be spent for capital and that all the money will stay within the water fund," he said. "Obviously we'll be looking very closely at what capital gets done and how it benefits the commission and our customers who are also paying the increase,"

Commission members plan to then meet with city water officials within days of the early January meeting.

Chicago sells water at a rate of $2.01 per 1,000 gallons. The DuPage Water Commission sells it to its member communities for $2.30 per 1,000 gallons, with the markup covering the agency's debt and operational costs.

Currently, the average family water bill from the commission, before the municipalities tack on additional costs to cover their operational and capital needs, is $17.25 for about 7,500 gallons of water.

That same water will cost $22.43 next year and $37.13 by 2015.

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