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Sycamore looking at increase in water fees

SYCAMORE – An increase in water and sewer fees is just one of the options Sycamore City Manager Brian Gregory proposed to City Council members Monday in an effort to bridge a $273,000 spending gap within the city’s water and sewer funds for Fiscal 2014.

Sycamore’s water fund is expected to have about $2.4 million in reserves at the completion of fiscal 2013, which ends April 30. Gregory said this reserve, along with the revenue from user fees, is a relatively healthy amount. But it’s still not enough to cover the hefty cost of maintaining the city’s water and sewage systems.

User fees are the main source of revenue for both the city’s water and sewer funds. The city currently utilizes a tiered fee system where the more water residents use, the less they pay per unit.

Gregory said the average Sycamore household pays just less than $26 a month for sewage costs and about $24 a month for water.

“User fees are close to generating enough revenue to offset expenditures,” he said. “However, it comes back to that question of maintenance.”

Some of the maintenance expenses include replacing 35-year-old radium removal equipment, as well as a sewer line that’s been in the ground for almost 100 years. Gregory said these expenses are measures the city should take to prevent a bigger financial problem in the future.

“We’d rather be more proactive than reactive,” he said.

Sycamore Mayor Ken Mundy said he also feels these expenditures would benefit the city in the long run.

“A proactive, planned, preventative maintenance scheme at an affordable level is only a good investment in our system,” he said.

The council also approved a $13,000 tax increment financing grant Monday to reimburse the DeKalb County Community Foundation for unexpected renovation costs the organization made to their new offices at the Sycamore Train Depot.

“There isn’t a better use of TIF money in my opinion,” Mundy said. “To take a building that would’ve been razed and make it productive.”

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