Water bill hikes on tap in Grandwood Park, Fox Lake Hills
Water bills for residents in Grandwood Park and Fox Lake Hills in north central Lake County likely will increase as part of the price of receiving Lake Michigan water.
The expected hike of $7.78 per month will affect 2,237 customers in Grandwood Park and 631 in Fox Lake Hills. Lake County operates the systems in the two unincorporated areas and the water is supplied by the Central Lake County Joint Action Water Agency.
Lake Michigan water begin flowing to Grandwood Park two years ago, as the first of four projects to extend what is considered a more plentiful, clean and reliable source of water to the area. Fox Lake Hills, Lake Villa and Lindenhurst since have been connected.
Lake County in 2011 designated Special Service Area 16, which established a separate tax levy for customers to fund construction of the system that brought Lake Michigan water to the four communities.
Owners of a home valued at $200,000 will be assessed about $180 per year until Special Service Area 16 expires in 2031. Up to $43 million in construction costs have been authorized, but the final amount is expected be about $37 million, said Rod Worden, Lake County public works director.
A separate connection fee of $2,800 per property also is required. The county will collect the money through a surcharge for customers in its two systems. It will be paid to the water agency over 30 years with no interest applied, according to an annual repayment plan expected to be considered by the Lake County Board on Aug. 13.
Lindenhurst, like Lake Villa and the county, pays connection fees but already has incorporated them into water rates, Village Administrator Clay Johnson said.
As proposed and recommended by the board's public works, planning and transportation committee, customers would pay a flat monthly fee of $7.78 for 30 years to be added to bills after Dec. 1.
That was suggested to be consistent with how other surcharge fees are collected and to avoid confusion during future rate periods, Worden said.
"I think it would be difficult to explain to the customers 10 years from now that this rate has gone up yet again," Worden told committee members during a discussion Wednesday.
Committee member Ann Maine said a flat rate is preferable.
"It's a really big project. It's a lot of time. It's a benefit for current homeowners, it's a benefit for future homeowners," she said.
"I'm not saying that's not a lot of money, but being able to do it for 30 years is a great deal," she added.
Bill Soucie, acting executive director of the Central Lake County Joint Action Water Agency, said the connections with the four systems have gone well and everything is working as planned.
"Based on the feedback we are getting, folks are happy to finally be drinking Lake Michigan water," he said.