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Article updated: 3/1/2012 11:13 PM

Hanover Park makes water rate hike official

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Just as the city of Chicago last fall announced it was charging more to supply water to its suburban neighbors, Hanover Park officials said they have no choice but to pass along costs to residents.

The village board Thursday approved a four-year plan that calls for a 22 percent water rate hike effective May 1, followed by an 18 percent increase next year and 15 percent in each of the last two years.

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In addition, a flat $25 service charge will be added to each bill, which covers a two-month period. Sewer rates will increase by 4 cents in Cook County and 10 cents in DuPage County, as well.

"It's a tough day for me to pass on that kind of an increase, but we have to pay for our water and we have to maintain our infrastructure," Hanover Park Mayor Rod Craig said. "It's not cheap."

Hanover Park's plan nearly mirrors Chicago's, which calls for a 25 percent water rate increase this year followed by 15 percent the next three years.

Despite the hikes, some residents may actually end up paying less.

The $25 flat fee will be waived for residents 65 and older and those enrolled in the Illinois Circuit Breakers program for low-income and disabled people. It also replaces the village's former system of charging a minimum of 12,000 gallons regardless of usage, a policy some called punitive and bad for the environment because it didn't promote water conservation.

A water rate study found that of Hanover Park's roughly 10,300 water accounts, 60 percent do not use 12,000 gallons of water. About 1,600 accounts don't even hit 5,000 gallons every two months.

Still, many residents will see significant increases.

Water rates will rise from the current $4.91 per 1,000 gallons to $9.35 in 2015. That means a family that uses 30,000 gallons will pay about $62 more every two months, while using 15,000 gallons will cost an additional $43.

Hanover Park isn't the only community supplied with Lake Michigan water to begin charging more. In May, Schaumburg residents will see their water rates jump 16 percent. Other suburbs such as Des Plaines are looking into alternative water sources.

Though there aren't any big water infrastructure projects in the works other than water main replacements, Hanover Park officials said the increases are necessary to prevent the village's water and sewer fund from shrinking. It's been losing more than $550,000 annually in recent years.

They also pointed out that despite the substantial hike, Hanover Park's water rate next year is still lower than the majority of surrounding municipalities.

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