Elgin water, sewer bill increase will average $32 a year

 
 
Updated 11/21/2019 6:16 PM

The average Elgin resident can expect to pay $2.85 more each month, or $32.40 annually, for water and sewer service next year, though city officials said the increase was lower than anticipated.

The proposed 2020 budget includes a 6% increase to water rates and a 2% increase to sewer rates. The sewer rate increase initially was anticipated at 5%, Debra Nawrocki, the city's chief financial officer, told the city council Wednesday during the third budget discussion ahead of the Jan. 1 start of the fiscal year. City officials already said the property tax levy won't increase as part of the $274.3 million budget for 2020.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Elgin's average monthly utility bill is $56.15; it will go up to $59 in 2020 and is projected at $70.83 in 2024. Utility rate increases started in 2018, largely to offset the loss of about $4.7 million per year in revenues after Bartlett switched to buying Lake Michigan water from buying Fox River water from Elgin.

Nawrocki proposed borrowing $9.5 million next year to fund utility projects and anticipated repaying 90% within 10 years. Elgin's per capita debt is projected to be $635 by the end of this year, which compares "very favorably" to other communities, she said. In 2018, the per capita debt was about $4,200 in Schaumburg, $1,900 in Hoffman Estates and $820 in Aurora, according to Elgin's budget documents.

Councilwoman Carol Rauschenberger asked if the city is planning for any costs related to climate change and its effects on Fox River water quality. Water Director Eric Weiss said there are no significant concerns, but there is a plan to drill more wells in future years.

The council also got projections about riverboat and tax-increment financing funds for 2020.

Gambling revenues -- including the city's share of Grand Victoria Casino proceeds and admissions, the casino's lease and video gambling revenues -- are estimated at about $10.7 million next year, slightly down from $10.8 million estimated this year. There is also $15 million in the riverboat fund, including $6.8 million earmarked for multiyear projects, Nawrocki said.

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Riverboat money next year will fund $24.1 million in expenses, including $6.5 million for street resurfacing, $2.5 million for the reconstruction of the Dundee Avenue and Summit Street intersection, and $1 million in repairs to city buildings, including $525,000 in masonry repair at The Highlands of Elgin golf course clubhouse. There's also $2.5 million to convert streetlights to LED, expected to yield savings in future years.

Revenue from the city's Central Area Tax-Increment Financing District are projected at about $3 million next year, with the largest expense the estimated $1.8 million redesign of Civic Center Plaza. The city council is expected to select a design next month.

TIF funds will pay for the rehabilitation of Dundee Avenue between Summit Street and Page Avenue, expected to be completed by 2022 at a total cost of $10.3 million. A $300,000 phase one engineering study is budgeted in 2020. The city also plans to spend $50,000 next year for an engineering study about improvements and repairs for DuPage Court, which has become "the big backyard patio gathering place for the downtown," City Manager Rick Kozal said.

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