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As costs rise, Flossmoor OKs slight increase in water rate

Water rates in Flossmoor are going up again, although the latest increase is less than 1 percent.

Village board members Monday approved a 12-cent increase per 1,000 gallons of water, a step that is being taken to offset small rate hikes from Chicago and Harvey. The new costs translate into a 9-cent increase in the water rate and 3-cent jump in the sewer rate.

The new water rate will be $14.42 per thousand gallons and is retroactive to April 1. The new billing rate is 0.8 percent higher than last year’s figure.

Flossmoor Finance Director Scott Bordui said he anticipates that the rate hike will increase average residential water bills in the village by about $3.24 per quarter.

The village board approved Bordui’s recommendation for the 12-cent increase as a response to slight rate hikes from Chicago — the source of Flossmoor’s Lake Michigan water supply — and Harvey, which sells it to the H-F communities. Based on the current Consumer Price Index (CPI), Chicago will be raising its water rate 1.7 percent on June 1, Bordui said. Harvey annually tacks on its own CPI increase and that will go into effect July 1.

Adjusting the water rate is an annual ritual in Flossmoor as village officials prepare to approve the municipal budget. The village’s water and sewer system is a major municipal expense and Flossmoor has been plagued in recent years by leaky infrastructure and inaccurate water meters. The result is a troublesome “billed to purchase ratio,” an indication that since 2010 the village has annually lost more than 30 percent of the water it purchases. For the 2017 fiscal year, that ratio was even higher — 59.6 percent  — which means that more than 40 percent of water purchased from Chicago and Harvey was lost.

Bordui said the billed to purchase ratio has actually shown signs of improvement in recent months, and that it currently stands at 68.5 percent. Repairs to the 3-million gallon Vollmer Road reservoir were completed last fall and that is the likely reason for the better ratio, he said. The reservoir, located just north of Vollmer Road and east of the Metra tracks, was losing 25,000 gallons of water a day due to leaks. Repairs to the reservoir cost $208,947. Bordui said the village will be able to absorb most of those costs due to a surplus this year in the Water and Sewer Fund.

Flossmoor has undertaken a number of projects designed to stem the loss of water in its aging system. Following the passage of a $7.28 million general obligation bond referendum in 2012, the village replaced 6.5 miles of Flossmoor’s leakiest water mains.

Also, Flossmoor is in the process of replacing all residential water meters with computerized models that will allow the village to read meters quicker, more efficiently and provide the ability to identify leaks and other issues in the water system on a daily, real-time basis. New meters for commercial and institutional use have already been installed.

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