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posted: 11/8/2013 4:06 PM

Brush pickup, electric bills may go up in Batavia

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The proposed 2014 budget Batavia officials are considering calls for increases in charges to users of water, electricity, sewers and brush pickup.

The $95.6 million budget, on display at cityofbatavia.net, includes already-approved increases of 3 percent for water and 8 percent for sewage.

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It also anticipates a rate increase of about 10 percent for electricity. If the council doesn't choose to raise the rates, the city might have to increase the purchased-power adjustment factor on utility bills, as part of its obligation to repay money it borrowed to invest in the Prairie State Energy Campus.

The city could also use reserves in a rate-stabilization fund to help offset the rising cost of electricity, according to the budget presentation made to the city council joint committees of the whole Thursday.

Another increase that could be coming would be in the monthly charge for brush and leaf pickup. Batavia single-family residences, and utility customers in some multifamily buildings, pay $3 a month for the curbside service. But streets Superintendent Scott Haines reports that if the city continues to provide the same service next year, it will cost the city at least $68,000 more to hire the contractor that does the work. No other firm in the area does brush pickup the same way as Kramer Tree Specialists, which uses a grappler to pick up big piles of brush and take it elsewhere to be sorted and chipped. Alternatives would be to return to having city crews chip brush, a practice that accounted for most of the street department's injuries and workers-compensation claims previously; hire a firm to chip brush; or not offer the service at all. Chipping the brush at curbside would also mean making residents put out smaller and shorter piles of brush, according to a memo from Haines.

The council will continue discussing the budget at a joint committees of the whole meeting at 7 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Batavia Government Center, 100 N. Island Ave. A public hearing is scheduled for 8 p.m. Nov. 18, and the council is expected to vote on the budget Dec. 2.

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