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Sycamore to raise water and sewer rates

SYCAMORE – Residents will see an increase in their utility bills after the Sycamore City Council adopted two ordinances Monday to increase both water and sewer user fees.

The ordinances, which go into effect May 1, were both passed unanimously by the council after discussing different options for bridging the gap between revenues and expenditures for both the water and sewer funds at the past two meetings.

The average household will pay about $1.07 more a month in water fees, or $2.14 a bimonthly billing period. Residents also will see an increase in their monthly sewer bills by about $0.77 a month, or $1.54 a bimonthly billing period.

“It’s a reasonable approach,” Sycamore Mayor Ken Mundy said.

The gradual increase of water user fees over the next five
years will help offset the nearly $273,000 water fund deficit, due in large part to radium removal costs estimated at $250,000 for fiscal 2014.

As for the city’s sewer fund, the $179,000 deficit is expected to decrease once it retires some debt service over the next three years.

However, the continuous expansion of the wastewater treatment plant on North Cross Street still will require the city to borrow funds. Sycamore City Manager Brian Gregory said the annual debt service will be less than what will be retired.

To make up the rest of the deficit, Gregory proposed a one-time 3 percent increase of all the sewer user fees, which the council approved.

Mundy said it’s important to remember both the water and sewer funds are enterprise funds within the city, meaning they must support themselves.

Gregory also presented the city’s preliminary three-year Capital Improvement Program at Monday’s meeting. In the plan, Gregory highlighted more than $294,000 in departmental capital expenditures that are planned, which mostly will go toward city vehicle and equipment improvements, as well as nearly $2.8 million for the city’s annual street maintenance program. Gregory said these expenditures were necessary.

“It’s not a want list,” he said. “It’s a need list.”

Mundy said he agreed with the plan.

“It’s not as much as we want to do,” he said. “But we have to live within our means.”

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