DuPage County plans to eliminate another government entity

DuPage County's push for consolidation soon will mean the end of another local government entity.

County board members on Tuesday approved a plan to dissolve the Highland Hills Sanitary District and provide Lake Michigan water to customers served by the Lombard-area agency.

Highland Hills manages sanitary sewer service and water operations for roughly 465 residential and business properties in Lombard. A separate entity, the Flagg Creek Water Reclamation District, treats the sewage.

As part of an intergovernment agreement county board members approved, the county will acquire Highland Hills' water system, and Flagg Creek will get Highland Hills' sanitary system.

The agreement paves the way for Highland Hills to be disbanded within 18 months, officials said.

"Once the water is flowing and the duties are successfully transferred, the county will begin the dissolution process of the Highland Hills district," county board Chairman Dan Cronin said.

Cronin said Highland Hills residents will get higher-quality water and improved levels of service at a lower cost.

A study found that Highland Hills' existing water distribution system, which delivers treated well water, is in good shape. But the sewer collection system needs roughly $1.1 million in repairs.

As a result, Highland Hills customers were facing significant rate increases. In November, they heard a series of proposals to address water and sewer service needs.

After reviewing their options, customers replied to a survey that asked them if they wanted the agency to continue as a stand-alone entity. Of the 351 customers who responded, 296 supported disbanding Highland Hills.

Highland Hills trustees approved the intergovernmental agreement on Aug. 22. Trustees with Flagg Creek said yes to the deal on Aug. 25.

As part of the agreement, repairs and upgrades to the water distribution and sewer collection systems would be completed in two years.

More than $500,000 in Highland Hills' reserve fund would be used to help pay for the capital improvements. Meanwhile, a goal would be to complete the conversion to Lake Michigan water by the end of this year or early 2018.

Flagg Creek's service area includes all or parts of Clarendon Hills, Oakbrook Terrace, Burr Ridge, Hinsdale, Darien, Willowbrook, Elmhurst, Westmont, Oak Brook, Villa Park and Lombard.

Cronin said Highland Hills will be the fifth unit of local government dissolved in DuPage. He said it's more proof that the county's "accountability, consolidation and transparency model for local government is working."

In 2013, state lawmakers gave DuPage the power to eliminate Highland Hills and a dozen other local government entities.

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