BY TONY HUFFMAN
Effingham residents could see an increase in their water bills and it may be as soon as next month.
City officials are proposing increasing water rates within the city. If approved at the May 22 city council meeting, the average customer will see an increase of $2.45 per month on their water bill for the first year, said Director of Public Works Steve Miller before the meeting. Over the following three years, the water rate would continue to increase at the monthly rate of $2.45 per year. The average user would see a total monthly increase of $9.80 after four years.
A rate study performed by an outside source recommended the increase to offset maintenance needs and rising operating costs within the Water Department, according to Miller.
If approved, the increase would appear on the June 15 water bill cycle because water bills are figured on the previous month’s usage.
While water rates for city users may be going up, city rates for wholesale users are going down. Area wholesalers include the Lake Sara Water Cooperative, Village of Heartville, Village of Teutopolis and the Snake Trail Water Association.
According to Effingham Public Works Director Steve Miller, wholesale rates for those water consumers will remain constant this year and be reduced in coming years. The current rate is $3.93 per 100 gallons usage, which will decrease to $3.31 the second year.
The Lake Sara Water Cooperative came to the City of Effingham requesting a lower rate, said Miller. Although representatives from the city and lake haven’t come to an agreement on the rates, Miller said he hopes the city setting the rates will prove productive in the negotiating process.
“I think this is an attractive rate for wholesalers,” said Miller. “Implementing the rate before all the contracts are renegotiated shows good faith on the city’s part.”