Huntley raises water, sewer rates, fees

Updated 1/30/2018 4:18 PM
  • Huntley is raising its water and sewer rates starting May 1 to fund nearly $20 million in long-term maintenance and needed capital improvements.

      Huntley is raising its water and sewer rates starting May 1 to fund nearly $20 million in long-term maintenance and needed capital improvements. Rick West | Staff Photographer

Huntley is raising its water and sewer rates starting May 1 to fund nearly $20 million in maintenance of its aging infrastructure and capital improvements over the next five years.

It includes a $3 million upgrade of its wastewater treatment facility to meet Environmental Protection Agency requirements for phosphorous removal, and building a new water treatment plant for $5.3 million and a new water well for $1.4 million, officials said.

Users will pay a bimonthly fee of $4.50 for water and $4.50 for sewer -- the current flat fee is 75 cents total per bill. Revenue from the new fees will be set aside for capital improvements, said Cathy Haley, village finance director.

The fee increase is on top of usage rates for water and sewer services, which also will go up each year through 2022.

Current rates per 1,000 gallons of usage are $3.02 for water and $3.99 for sewer. The new rate structure effective May 1 is $3.17 per 1,000 gallons of water consumption and $4.19 for sewer usage for a total of $7.36. Combined rates will go up on Jan. 1 of each subsequent year to $7.73 in 2019, $8.12 in 2020, $8.52 in 2021, and $8.94 in 2022.

Any major capital improvements will require the village taking on debt. Officials borrowed $3 million for upgrades to the wastewater treatment facility, which will be paid down with revenues from the new fees and rate increases, officials said.

The village's infrastructure is 15 to 20 years old. It serves 26,632 residents -- 13,406 residential and commercial users of water and sewer services. Its yearly operational budget for providing those services is $2 million for each, including annual maintenance work.

"We've got some larger items coming up, a lot of those mandated by new EPA regulations," said Timothy Farrell, director of public works and engineering.

Expenses include replacing the ultraviolet disinfection system and equipment at two wastewater plants and lift station upgrades.

The village recently developed a comprehensive master utility plan identifying the need for new water facilities to alleviate strain on its current system, which is running at capacity, and to accommodate future customers.

"We need to start planning a new water well and a new water treatment plant to satisfy our demands. That's a large one-time expenditure," Farrell said. "Obviously, the village is growing both commercially and residentially, but the need is today."

Twenty-two percent of the village's annual water supply is used for irrigating residential and commercial lawns. Users can purchase a second meter solely for irrigation, which is charged at $3.02 per 1,000 gallons (instead of the combined rate). Irrigation water rates also are increasing to encourage conservation. As of May 1, consumers will pay $6.34 per 1,000 gallons, which increases to $6.66 on Jan. 1, 2019, $7 in 2020, $7.34 in 2021, and $7.70 in 2022.

The village's conservation ordinance allowing even/odd watering during the hours of 6 to 9 a.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. might need to be revised in future.

In 10 years, officials will review the rate structure to make sure it is keeping pace with operational, maintenance and capital needs, Farrell said.

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