3 Carpentersville trustees question water rates

 
 
Updated 5/23/2011 10:38 PM

Carpentersville trustees Paul Humpfer and Doug Marks are making good on their campaign promise to watch every dollar.

During an audit and finance commission meeting Monday night, the pair that ran as a slate in April's election turned their attention to a recent study by Baxter and Woodman Consulting Engineers recommending the village raise water rates to pay for its water system and infrastructure.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Two of the village's 1.5-meter belt filter presses for wastewater treatment are 16 years old, and have a life expectancy of 12 to 17 years, Village Manager J. Mark Rooney said. The filter presses have had maintenance issues for each of the nine months he's been village manager.

The village has applied for a loan through the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to cover a pair of 2.2-meter presses. The loan, with interest, would cost roughly $1.9 million to pay back, and the village would use funds from the increased water rates to settle the debt.

The study estimated both machines would cost a total of $890,000. Other fees associated designing and putting them into service bring the total to $1.4 million.

The board approved the water rate hikes last month, but Marks made a discovery that has some commission members deciding whether to revisit the issue.

Marks, saying the $890,000 figure didn't sit well with him, called the press manufacturer earlier this month and was quoted $590,000 for two, 2-meter presses.

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That leaves Humpfer, chairman of the audit and finance commission, questioning whether any of figures quoted in the study were accurate and did all they could to save taxpayer dollars. He, Marks and Trustee Pat Schultz support reviewing every line item mentioned in the study to see whether this bears out and if the approved water rates could be lowered. Increases are due to show up on the October bill.

"The common set of numbers, to me, have holes in it," Humpfer said. "I would like to walk through how we built these rates."

The commission, with its new members in place, will review the items during its June 20 meeting and develop questions from there; Humpfer will get an early peek at the document in two weeks.

Village President Ed Ritter reminded Humpfer that the increased rates are also subsidizing debt service and the tax rate, which amount to millions of dollars.

"We've got to make that up somehow," Ritter said. "And when you're sitting here arguing about (saving) $6 or $7 a year when we have millions to make up, I don't see the point of this discussion."