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updated: 12/11/2012 9:22 PM

More changes coming for Wauconda water bills

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Now that Wauconda property owners are being billed for water usage monthly instead of quarterly, village officials are planning a slew of billing-related changes.

Under a plan reviewed Tuesday night during a committee-of-the-whole meeting at village hall, water bills would be sent out on the third day of each month, instead of the 15th day of the month. Payments would be due 14 days later, rather than 20.

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The goal, Village Administrator Zaida Torres said, is to ensure payments arrive the same month the bills go out.

"You always want to collect revenues in the same period," Torres said.

Additionally, the penalty for paying a bill late would increase to 20 percent, from 10 percent.

The fee for having the village shut off or turn on your water would jump from $50 to $75, with the after-hours fee for that service increasing from $100 to $125.

Not all water-related fees are increasing. The $35 fee associated with red tags for lack of payment would disappear if the changes are approved because the tags themselves no longer would be used.

Instead, such notices will be delivered by registered U.S. mail.

Some people complained about being embarrassed by the red tags or feeling harassed, and mailing the notices would eliminate that problem, Torres said.

"That's not our intent," she told the board.

Red-tag fees accounted for about $60,000 in annual revenue, Torres said.

If the board approves the changes next week, residents and business owners will be notified of the new rules in their next water bills, Torres said.

Wauconda property owners started receiving monthly bills in October. The change didn't affect water rates, Mayor Mark Knigge said in an interview, but rates are increasing.

Last month, Wauconda voters approved a $50 million plan to bring drinking water from Lake Michigan. As part of that project, water rates will increase to cover the $9 million cost of converting the equipment now in homes and businesses to a new system.

Additionally, property taxes will increase to finance a $41 million loan for the rest of the project.

The owner of a house valued at $200,000 will pay an additional $516 a year in property taxes and water fees, officials have said.

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