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Water Rate Jumps as City Faces Higher Fees from Suppliers

Oak Forest residents will pay about $13 more per quarter for water after aldermen approved a rate increase at a Dec. 18 meeting. The increase is a result of a rate increase by the city's water suppliers, Oak Lawn and Chicago.

Oak Forest residents' checkbooks will spring a leak starting Jan. 1, 2013, when the city's new water rate goes into effect. The increase comes after the aldermen approved the motion, set in place to cover an increase in the cost of water from suppliers Oak Lawn and the city of Chicago.

“This is strictly a pass-through rate increase,” said Troy Ishler, Oak Forest Public Works Director. “This is no profit to the city of Oak Forest on this.”

On Jan. 1, the water rate in Oak Forest will increase to a volume rate of 63 cents per 1,000 gallons. The increase means that the average resident will pay about $13 more per quarter, or $52 more per year.

Alderman Rich Simon voiced his displeasure over the increase and questioned if the water system in Oak Forest is operating as well as is should be.

“What I want to know is, is efficiency part of the problem,” Simon said. “How quick do we get to a water main break, a lot of things that.”

Mayor Hank Kuspa said that while there are some leaks in the system underground, the system is working properly. Something Ishler confirmed.

“I'd like to assure the aldermen that it is not inefficiency,” Ishler said.

Ishler added that while there is a discrepancy in the amount of water billed to Oak Forest by Oak Lawn and the amount of water the city pumps, a study is currently underway to pinpoint why.

“We're working to find out exactly why the spread is getting larger,” he said. “We're buying just as much water, but the consumers are using less. We're working to figure out why.”

Alderman Dan Ensing also voiced his displeasure over the increase, saying that Oak Forest is paying for the mishandling of water by the city of Chicago.

“These increases are being passed along so that we can take care of their infrastructure problems that they have,” Ensing said. “They're not passing these increases along to their customers that they have, like they are to the customers that they're basically holding hostage. … I'm just not a fan of paying for Chicago's infrastructure improvements, when they neglected their problems for years and they don't even collect all the money they should to pay for their own issues.”

Although both Ensing and Simon voted against the increase, the city council approved the move in a 4-to-2 vote, with Alderwoman Laura Clemons absent.

In a press release the city noted that the increase only applies to the rate increase from the city's water suppliers and that, “the city is in the process of evaluating all aspects of its water and sewer system, including the costs of routine infrastructure maintenance, and will report its findings to the city council in the spring.”

The city passed a similar rate increase in January, and residents' bills jumped by $1 for every 1,000 gallons used. Aldermen said the increase would reportedly help cover the increase in supply cost as well as a $700,000 deficit in the city's Water and Sewer Fund.

 

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Brian December 21, 2012 at 01:55 PM
(.)63 cents? or 63 cents? I just want to know if we're using Verizon math here. ;-) http://bit.ly/VfhAdk
NANCY GRACE December 21, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Time to stop flushing the toilet and use the bucket method.
Janice Most December 21, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Anyone want to take a bet on how high Oak Forest will raise their portion of the water rates in a few months? I say it will be between 10 and 15% on top of this increase from Chicago. Are there really only two aldermen out of 7 who ever ask any questions? Ald. Simon's questions were valid and Kuspa and Ishler saying that the city is efficient was laughable. Do you know anything that is done in the city that is efficient?
Ilona Nie December 21, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Lot's of "stopped meters" and "estimated" bills maybe?? Just a thought.
Tired of the B.S. December 21, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Mayor Hank Kuspa said that while there are some leaks in the system underground, the system is working properly. Something Ishler confirmed. Ishler added that while there is a discrepancy in the amount of water billed to Oak Forest by Oak Lawn and the amount of water the city pumps, a study is currently underway to pinpoint why. I would like to help out with the study, THERE ARE WATER LEAKS UNDERGROUND!! Could this possibly be the reason for the discrepancy? “We're working to find out exactly why the spread is getting larger,” he said. “We're buying just as much water, but the consumers are using less. We're working to figure out why.” Maybe the town should buy less water if the demand keeps falling. Maybe the demand keeps falling because the citizens are cutting back and trying to use less water in order to have a smaller water bill. Maybe the city should try cutting back and not just raising taxes and fees everytime.
Tom S December 21, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Where is the .63/000g increase coming from? Chicago's rates went up 38 cents for 2013. Oak Lawn was adding .04/000g. Did Oak Lawn's rates go up that much to make the 25 cent difference? And/or, are Oak Forest sewer rates also going up?
Tom S December 21, 2012 at 06:28 PM
The city needs to speed up it's water meter replacement program. Old meters underreport water consumption.
Tired of the B.S. December 21, 2012 at 06:30 PM
I think I have your answer right here: Aldermen said the increase would reportedly help cover the increase in supply cost as well as a $700,000 deficit in the city's Water and Sewer Fund. Because you always wait until your deficit is at least $700,000 before you try to do something about it, right?
Michael M. December 21, 2012 at 08:51 PM
If there are leaks in the system underground, then the system is NOT WORKING PROPERLY!!!!! If there were leaks in your plumbing at home, would you say that it was operating properly?
Michael M. December 21, 2012 at 08:54 PM
They are going to do a study to find the discrepancy? How about this, tell OL and Chicago that we are not going to pay any extra until they can explain the difference. If it is found that the issues is their fault, we should not have to pay any extra. It is stupid to charge us extra, then find out the problem; isn't that like the closing the barn door after the horse has got out?
Michael M. December 21, 2012 at 08:56 PM
I think it is time that we review the ordinance that prohibits citizens from having their own private well. I am tired of paying for the politicians stupidity.
Michael M. December 21, 2012 at 08:57 PM
How can Ishler say “I'd like to assure the aldermen that it is not inefficiency,” then declare "there is a discrepancy in the amount of water billed to Oak Forest by Oak Lawn and the amount of water the city pumps" That is the essence of inefficiency.
Michael M. December 21, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Maybe if the city didn't have the water conservation, more people would use water. It is ironic, they force water conservation, you can be ticketed if you do not observe it. Then they complain we are not using enough water.
Michael M. December 21, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Remember, to parse words. Ishler said it would not be a PROFIT to the city. They are just trying to fill the deficit that they created.
b December 21, 2012 at 09:53 PM
Why do they always put the burden on us, the homeowners, to pay for their mismanagement? Maybe if they spent a little more time trying to attract new businesses that would provide needed revenue. Stop screwing the homeowner and do your job you were elected to do.
NANCY GRACE December 21, 2012 at 10:43 PM
Cut Ishler's salary and the city will save money.
Mary Attreau December 22, 2012 at 01:21 AM
What was the $15.00 amount, that is called basic charges on our water bills supposed to be for? Pehaps I forgot, or perhaps it should be itemized on the bill with a real name of what the money is used for.
Mary Attreau December 22, 2012 at 01:26 AM
P.S. Why can't I print this article??? I've tried, but only get the picture of City Hall. The e-mail version is all messed up, so I can't print that either. I guess I'll just copy and paste it to a document.
Michael M. December 22, 2012 at 01:29 AM
Click the print button a the top of the article
Michael M. December 22, 2012 at 01:31 AM
That was for the deficit in the water department, obviously it helped.
b December 22, 2012 at 11:38 AM
It's time to clean house. We need responsible people to lead our community, not lemmings. Maybe they should drive through their wards and see all the empty houses and realize there is no tax money coming from them so lets drive even more good people from their homes with all the increases they are asking for. It's time for our leaders to look in the mirror and start making some tough decisions and not take the easy way by passing the buck to the homeowners. We are paying for a person who is suppose to recruit new businesses, maybe we could save some money by eliminating their salary, buy wait no we can just create a new tax or fee and pass it on to the people. Yeah that's the right move! Lets vote on it.
Mary Attreau December 22, 2012 at 04:59 PM
I agree with you totally b, who ever you are!
Mary Attreau December 22, 2012 at 05:07 PM
I will add to the above, get some new businesses in the empty stores all over town, it's really looking run down and like a ghetto area.. I realize that iit's not a good time to open a new business, but talk to the buildkng owners, and ask them to reconsider asking less rent , at least until the business takes off, then have higher rent. Better than being empty, and earning nothing from them. How about it!!!???

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