Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

May 7, 2014

Increase would offset maintenance

BY TONY HUFFMAN Daily News
Effingham Daily News

---- — BY TONY HUFFMAN

Daily News

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.”

The wholesalers, in turn, set their own rates for the water associations they represent.

In other news, the council:

• Approved a resolution that allows the Effingham Central Business District to have the annual Taste of Freedom public event. The event requires street closure in the downtown area from approximately 3:30 to 10 p.m. Friday, June 20.

• Approved a change to the annual parade route taken before the Fourth of July fireworks display. The route will now follow the Homecoming Parade route, which includes crossing state routes, beginning at Second Street and East Jefferson Avenue and ending at Effingham High School. Additional closure of First Street and Second Street, from East Jefferson Avenue to Roadway Avenue from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The parade will start at 5 p.m.

• Accepted a bid for the reconstruction of Douglas Avenue in the amount of $338,698.95 from Effingham Asphalt Co., which was the lowest responsive bidder. The project is being partially funded by a $100,000 Illinois Jobs Now Grant.

• Approved Johnson Funeral Home’s application to participate in the city’s Pick It Up, Effingham! litter abatement program. They have agreed to adopt the area on Charlotte Street, from Rickelman Avenue to Ford Avenue.

• Approved an intergovernmental agreement with Helen Matthes Library for a parcel of land along Washington Avenue owned by the city that was omitted when the city transferred ownership of the new location of the library at the former Fifth Third Bank building to the library.

• Set the next city council meeting for Thursday, May 22, at 6:30 p.m.

According to Arndt, several members of the council have scheduling conflicts with the regular Tuesday meeting.

Tony Huffman can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 138, at tony.huffman@effinghamdaily news.com or on Twitter @Ednthuffman.