Naperville won't pass along 1 percent water rate decrease

The DuPage Water Commission is lowering its rates by 1 percent, but Naperville water customers won't see the difference.

The city council voted this week not to pass along the 1 percent decrease effective May 1 because its own rates are likely to increase next year after an upcoming study.

"Yes, we are holding onto a little extra money but it's consistent and it doesn't lead to confusion in the community," council member John Krummen said.

For the average Naperville water customer who uses 8,000 gallons a month, the 1 percent decrease would have resulted in a monthly 40 cents savings.

"Forty cents on a monthly bill of, say, $80 is pretty small," Jim Holzapfel, water utility director, said.

City staff members are studying proposals from consultants who could complete a water rate study by the fall to determine how rates should be set to meet future maintenance and infrastructure needs. The city council then can review the study and vote on new rates to start Jan 1, 2017.

Council member Kevin Gallaher cast the lone vote against the plan to keep the water rates consistent until the study is complete. The move is expected to generate about $200,000.

"I can't support hanging onto this money even until the end of the year," Gallaher said.

But because of upcoming costs facing the water and wastewater utility, council member Becky Anderson took the opposite tact.

The utility needs a new five-year operating permit from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for Springbrook Water Reclamation Center. The permit could come with costs between $10 million and $80 million to meet a tighter limit on how much of the mineral phosphorus can be found in treated water.

"I think it's wise to hold onto this (money) knowing that's a huge-ticket item we'll have to face," Anderson said.

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