Updated: May 8, 2013 6:40AM
Starting this month, Flossmoor residents will see their water bills increase an average of $8 a month.
The water rates went up 9.4 percent April 1, reflecting water rate hikes by both Chicago and Harvey, as well as large amounts of water lost through an aging water system, village officials said.
“We’re in the middle of this series of huge Chicago water rate increases,” village finance director Scott Bordui said last week.
“We’re also continuing to deal with poor billed-to-purchase ratio,” he said.
Flossmoor’s old and leaky pipes lose one out of every three gallons of water purchased, he said.
Those leaky pipes were a big reason this year’s water fund balance is projected to land $98,000 below the target reserve, Bordui said.
The reserve level is 30 percent of operating costs, or about $960,000, he said.
“It’s just good to have some money there for emergencies, or if there is some issue with cash flow,” Bordui said.
“Then you’ve at least got some money to operate on for a few months.”
While the rate increase should raise the fund balance back to 30 percent by next year, the village board also directed the staff to defer the annual contribution to the capital equipment fund.
The village usually puts about $110,000 a year into the capital equipment fund, but will have 10 years to make up the loss of next year’s contribution before the money is needed for new equipment, Bordui said.
“We’re under our fund balance policy, and that concerns me more than anything else,” Mayor Paul Braun said last week. “Unless we change the fund balance policy, we’re below it now, which I’ve never seen since I’ve been on the board.”
At last week’s village board meeting, Trustee Diane Williams said she would rather fix the reserve balance now than have the gap grow bigger and bigger.
However, she said the rate increase will hit residents harder since it comes when residents’ water use is usually higher.
“We just need to make sure we do a good job of educating people in advance of them getting that impact, so they’ll know what to expect and how to plan around it,” she said.