As the Village of Flossmoor awaits a switch to a new water supplier that could come as early as this September, officials are discussing an increase to residential water and sewer rates to help cover increasing costs.
Finance Director Scott Bordui presented the village board with five options regarding water and sewer rates during a meeting held Monday, April 4, along with a recommendation to raise water rates by $1 per 1,000 gallons and sewer rates by $0.29 per 1,000 gallons. The recommendation was based on planned Chicago rate increases that come every June 1 and a City of Harvey charge that increases July 1 per the stipulation of a contract extension, according to Bordui.
The potential change, presented April 4 for discussion only, would raise Flossmoor’s water rates from $11.48 per 1,000 gallons to $12.48, retroactively effective April 1, which is the start of a new billing quarter for the village. Sewer rates would go from $3.77 per 1,000 gallons to $4.06.
Bordui explained the water and sewer fund in Flossmoor has faced a regressing trend, with a compounding impact of Chicago increases, the village’s water billing losses and water infrastructure issues all playing a role.
Among the other options Bordui presented to the board was one that would have seen the water rate increase by $2.16 per 1,000 gallons and the sewer rate by $0.43 per 1,000 gallons. That would cover both current costs and depreciation expenses, allowing the village to save for future capital replacements. He called it the “ideal” approach for a “save and spend” strategy for the water and sewer fund, leading Trustee Rosalind Henderson Mustafa to ask why that was not his recommended option.
“It seems to be optimal,” she said.
But Bordui said if Flossmoor can get its billing-purchase ratio back to a good level, the existing water rate might be fine. He also said residential water rates are already high, so staff is trying to avoid bigger increases that would put more of a burden on residents.
Trustee Brian Driscoll said the recommended increase of $1.29 is the right way to go, covering current costs while avoiding “sticker shock” for residential customers. Mayor Michelle Nelson said while she understands why the option that covers all present and future costs might be ideal, it would be tough on residents.
“It’s just simply unaffordable for families,” she said.
An ordinance is expected to be prepared for a vote at the next meeting. The village is working with Homewood to acquire water from Hammond through Chicago Heights, but the earliest possible connection date is September 2022.
The rate presentation came as part of the latest round of fiscal year 2023 budget talks, which also included a look at the finance and facilities plan. That discussion, led by Village Manager Bridget Wachtel, featured a breakdown of immediate needs over the next three years, as well as longer-term projects and those without a definite place on Flossmoor’s project timeline.
Phases 2 and 3 of the Flossmoor Road Viaduct project, which include engineering and construction, are expected in fiscal years 2023 and 2024 at a cost of $4.89 million. Related to the prior water discussions, $1.68 million is budgeted in FY23 for water supply development and $1.78 million for water meter replacement.
The Brookwood Bridge and Butterfield Road Culvert Engineering, expected to cost $1.10 million, is slated for FY23 pending grant or loan funding. Phase 4 of the sanitary sewer rehabilitation in Flossmoor Hills and Highlands is also contingent upon grant/loan funding at $1.28 million.
Dartmouth pedestrian bridge replacement and stream bank stabilization (expected to cost $1.48 million), public works salt storage building reconstruction ($200,000), and Central Business District pedestrian and streetscape construction ($1.8 million) are planned for FY24 and FY25.
- Nelson appointed Ben Herman to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Herman is an 18-year resident of Flossmoor with real estate and public service experience. The village board voted unanimously to approve the appointment.
- Nelson proclaimed the second Saturday of April New Resident Day. Nelson read the proclamation, aimed toward welcoming new residents and bringing neighbors together, alongside new Flossmoor residents at the meeting.