Whether Chicago's initial refusal to share financial data related to the most recent water rate increase was a test or a simple misunderstanding, DuPage Water Commission officials are pleased to now have the data they sought.
Chairman Jim Zay said a representative from the city's department of water management on Wednesday hand-delivered more detailed information to the commission to supplement its 2012 Mid-Year Report to Suburban Customers.
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Prior to the four-year water rate increase imposed by Chicago in January, the commission sought assurances from Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the city's water management department that the revenue would be used to benefit the entire water system and not just capital improvements within the city.
To make sure, the commission asked the city to create biannual reports, including a comparison of budgeted water revenue vs. actual revenue, a list of cash transfers from the city's water fund, and an annual Department of Water Management budget.
Commissioners said an earlier report released by the city did not include any of the information the city agreed to provide to its suburban water customers. As recently as two weeks ago, commission members contemplated filing Freedom of Information Act requests to get the information they sought.
"Whether the original report was a misunderstanding or they were just testing us, we weren't going to let it go until we got what we were promised," Zay said. "But we got it and the city made it quite clear to us that they do want to cooperate with us and our suburban customers."
The initial report included several pages of updates, with photos, of some of the $400 million of capital projects the city's water department has budgeted for the next two years; a graph outlying more than 250 water main leaks throughout the system during the past six months; and Internet links leading to the city's 482-page budget and 2011 financial audit of the water fund.
"This additional information seems to be much more in line with the detailed information that the commission initially requested," Zay said. "Our staff is reviewing the information now and then our intention is to share it with our customers and their finance staffs so they can have any questions answered."
Zay said all of the commission's customers should receive the 107-page report early next week.