Editorial: Municipal, school leaders are helping ease some of residents' pandemic money worries

  • A number of suburban municipalities are giving residents a break on water bills as a way to ease their financial pressures during the pandemic.

    A number of suburban municipalities are giving residents a break on water bills as a way to ease their financial pressures during the pandemic.

The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Posted10/30/2020 1:00 AM

Running a municipality or a school district isn't an easy task. It can be difficult to balance the current needs of residents with those of the future.

It can also be a thankless job. Residents rarely show up to board meetings when things are going smoothly -- when the stewards of local government do what they are supposed to do to keep us safe, to keep the toilets flushing, to ensure the garbage gets picked up, to provide our kids an education.


We concede we also tend to focus more on when things go wrong than when they go right.

But we've seen myriad cases in recent months and days of local leaders looking beyond the ledger book to try to provide some relief to people who've lost jobs, faced pay cuts or seen their hours reduced -- people who are having trouble paying their bills. The need for relief is immediate and it's very real. So it has been heartening to see various efforts to make life a little less stressful.

This week, Elk Grove Village officials announced a second round of $200 residential water bill credits will take effect with upcoming January and February bills. The credits -- worth $3 million total, will apply to all 11,500 houses, townhouses and condos in town. Given that the average homeowner's bill is $84, that $200 goes a long way.

That's on top of the $3.2 million relief package the village issued in March that involved water bill credits and the waiver of a variety of licensing fees for businesses.

"The board is excited to be able to do that for the community," Village President Craig Johnson said.

South Elgin is looking to offer $60 in credits to water and sewer bills.

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"We have it (the money) and it's time to give back to the community if we can," Village President Steve Ward said. Ward, whose Elgin barbershop has been closed since March, knows that every little bit helps. "Even for people like me, $60 will go a long way," he said.

Naperville is offering waivers on liquor and tobacco licensing fees as well as outdoor dining licenses.

Other towns have offered similar fees. In Mundelein, the village board temporarily suspended water disconnections and penalties until next April. It also approved breaks on licensing fees and launched a program to help local restaurants and bars this winter by providing help buying tents, heating equipment and other gear.

Many school districts, including Northwest Suburban High School District 214, have decided not to charge registration fees, something that could save families hundreds of dollars.

These rebates and cuts may not amount to a lot of money, but for those who already are struggling to get by, they can be meaningful relief.

And that shouldn't go unnoticed.

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