Local

McHenry City Council 
approves sewer, water rate hike as last stage of plan

McHENRY – McHenry City residents will see a slight increase in their sewer and water bills this February.

The rate hike, approved Monday by the McHenry City Council, is the last stage of a plan to bring the city’s water and sewer fund into the black. The fund ran a $390,000 deficit in 2008-09 and a $107,900 deficit in 2009-10.

With three increases since September 2008, the city projects it will now run a surplus of between $100,000 and $150,000 in the 2010-11 fiscal year and then a surplus of $200,000 to $300,000 for the 2011-12 fiscal year.

The revenue will allow the city to do much needed maintenance to the water and sewer system and pay for capital improvement projects, City Administrator Chris Black said.

“We have to step up certainly the maintenance of our system,” Black said. “We haven’t done any capital improvements.”

Included in the planned projects are improvements to Water Plant No. 2, he said.

“This is a plan that’s been in place,” Black said.

“We put ourselves in a position where we’re on solid ground financially.”

The latest increase will hike the combined water and sewer bill of a user of 6,500 gallons of water a month from $41.03 a month to $43.69.

This is the third time the rates have increased to eliminate the deficit over a four-year period. Despite the hike, the city’s water and sewer rates are among the lowest in the county, Black said.

The only alderman to vote against the hike, Andrew Glab said, “I was never really supportive of raising those [rates] so much as we did,” adding the city should look at cutting back on water and sewer expenses.

For an extra $2.66 more per bill for the average user, it’s well worth the increase, alderman Jeffrey Schaefer said.

“It’s a sad fact that we were experiencing a deficit,” he said.

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