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Article updated: 4/3/2013 3:36 PM

Wauconda water rates being reviewed for first time since 2005

By Russell Lissau

A consultant has been hired to study if Wauconda needs to adjust what property owners are charged for water usage.

Speer Financial Services, a Chicago firm that has advised village leaders on other water-related issues, is handling the task. The goal is to determine if the service rates are too high, too low or "where we should be," Village Administrator Zaida Torres told the village board during a meeting Tuesday night.

The last study of this kind occurred in 2005, Torres said.

"Now it's time to really look at it," she said.

Wauconda's water service is fully funded by property owners' bills and isn't subsidized by village hall, Mayor Mark Knigge said.

"We're kind of at the break-even point," he said.

The village has 5,477 water customers. Rates differ if the customer is residential, a business or industrial.

The minimum monthly water bill in the village is about $23 for up to 2,000 gallons used. A family of four can use about 6,000 gallons or more a month and would be charged about $71, officials said.

Speer will be paid up to $5,000 for the study, but the actual fee is expected to be closer to $2,500, Torres said.

A report should be delivered within a few weeks.

Water has been a topic of discussion in Wauconda for various reasons recently.

In November, residents voted to get water from Lake Michigan rather than continue to rely on local wells.

The project will cost $50 million, officials have said, and taxes and water fees will increase to pay for the work.

Additionally, some candidates in next week's election have complained about changes to water bills that were enacted in recent months.

They're especially critical of the switch from quarterly to monthly billing and increased late fees.

Trustees have defended the changes, saying monthly billing allows more efficient meter readings. They've also said the late fee was increased at the same time a penalty for lack of payment was eliminated.

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