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Article updated: 8/14/2013 10:54 AM

Wauconda, water agency at odds over fees

By Russell Lissau

A disagreement over fees is keeping Wauconda officials from inking a deal with the Central Lake County Joint Action Water Agency for drinking water from Lake Michigan, village officials revealed Tuesday.

That standoff has led Mayor Frank Bart and other Wauconda officials to continue the search for a provider for water, even as the village has begun borrowing money for what has been estimated to be a $50 million project.

Wauconda's request for so-called recapture fees from other towns that could hook up to the proposed water system "was turned down flat" by the regional water agency last month, village attorney Rudy Magna told the village board Tuesday night.

Wauconda officials want to establish the fees to get money from towns that would benefit from the millions they will sink into the project.

"(It's) a significant financial opportunity," Magna said during the committee-of-the-whole meeting at village hall.

Bart and the board still plan to find a water provider and build a system for residents and businesses, but now they have expanded the search beyond CLCJAWA.

"We will continue to negotiate with all parties," Bart said. "The best option is what we're looking for."

Magna has drafted a response letter to the water agency. The board could decide next week whether to send it.

No action was taken Tuesday.

Wauconda voters overwhelmingly approved a plan last year that would bring Lake Michigan water to the village.

Homes and businesses now get drinking water from eight wells, which are all expected to run dry in 18 years.

The owner of a house valued at $200,000 is expected to pay an additional $516 a year in property taxes and water fees to pay for the project.

The town's water service was a big part of Bart's campaign for the mayor's office this spring. Residents repeatedly have asked about the progress of the project at board meetings.

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