Raise in water, sewer charges proposed in new Park Ridge budget
Updated: March 15, 2013 6:06AM
PARK RIDGE — Increases in water and sewer charges are again proposed for Park Ridge property owners as part of the city’s upcoming budget plan.
The City Council held its first meeting on the proposed 2013-14 budget on Jan. 29. According to Finance Director Kent Oliven, the proposed budget does not recommend any fee or tax increases at this time, other than a rise in the cost of water and sewer usage.
Changes in utility billing rates are reportedly required for Park Ridge to keep up with the increase in the cost of water passed on by the City of Chicago, replace water mains and sewer lines, and potentially purchase a remote water-meter reading system.
Under Oliven’s proposal, the tier one Park Ridge rate would increase from $2.85 per 1,000 gallons of water to $3.05 per 1,000 gallons of water, while the Chicago water rate would increase from $2.51 per 1,000 gallons of water used to $3.02. Fixed charges according to meter size will increase by 37 cents per 1,000 gallons of water used.
“Every customer would be paying the same dollar increase,” Oliven said of the proposal.
How much the increase could impact users on average had not been calculated, he added.
According to Oliven’s memo to the council, the amount Chicago charges Park Ridge for water has increased a compounded rate of 117 percent since 2007.
Sixth Ward Ald. Marc Mazzuca has asked that the city’s finance staff study whether the remote water-meter reading system “is really a cost-justified investment for taxpayers.” The system, which would replace the requirement that residents read their own meters, is estimated to cost $3.5 million.
Mazzuca also asked whether any of the over 900 Park Ridge residents with 1.5-inch water meters actually need this size to support fire sprinklers — and the added cost that comes with it.
No decisions have yet been made and the City Council will continue to look at the water rate structure and cost, Oliven said.
The city is looking at a proposed budget of $30.5 million in revenues in the general fund and expenses projected at $29.4 million. That leaves an anticipated surplus of $1 million in the general fund which is the city’s main operating fund.
Mayor David Schmidt cautioned aldermen that the Uptown Tax Increment Financing District debt is “the one thing hanging over our heads through this entire process” and advised them to consider this before proposing any new expenditures during the budget process.
Though tax levy proposals had been brought forward to the City Council during budget discussions in years past, that is not the case this year.
“It’s way too early to be looking at that,” Oliven said.
The city’s tax levy is passed in December of each year. In December 2012 the City Council passed an increase of 2.15 percent.