Holiday Hills water rates more than triple

HOLIDAY HILLS – Residents in Holiday Hills will see their water rates more than triple this month as the local utility company raises its rates for the first time in 11 years.

Holiday Hills Utilities Inc. raised the water rates this month from $2.53 per 1,000 gallons to $11.26 per 1,000 gallons, a 345 percent increase.

The monthly fixed charge also increased from $6.85 to $16.20 on a three-quarter-inch meter.

The water bill of someone with a three-quarter-inch meter who uses 4,000 gallons of water a month will increase by more than $44, for example.

“We understand a rate increase. We get it. But not [this much],” Holiday Hills President Mickey Brown said. “There’s a lot of people who won’t be able to pay their water bills.”

Holiday Hills resident Lynn Zisser would consider herself one of those people. Zisser said she is on a “very fixed income” and will likely have to stop filling one or two of her 11 medications just to pay her water bill.

“I’m already budgeted to the penny,” Zisser said. “I don’t need this right now.”

Holiday Hills Utilities Inc. has a phase-in plan for customers unable to pay the increase immediately, which includes lower monthly payments from 2013 to 2015 with a 3.41 percent interest charge on the deferred amounts. Someone who opts for the phase-in plan, but moves outside of the Holiday Hills service area in December 2015, for example, will owe $526.37 in addition to his then current bill to make up for the charges that were deferred.

The village was notified a year ago that the rates would likely increase. An informal hearing was held with members of the Illinois Commerce Commission in September, and a 257 percent rate increase was recommended by the ICC.

Residents were told that the rate would increase in part because the village hasn’t had an increase in more than a decade.

Multiple calls to Holiday Hills Utility Inc. were not returned.

Residents received a letter from Holiday Hills Utility Inc. earlier this month detailing the changes.

“This is outrageous,” Holiday Hills resident Debbie Pristop wrote in an email to the Northwest Herald. “We have no other options as we are not allowed to dig our own wells. We all feel trapped.”

The village has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for all ICC documents related to the case and will review those documents before deciding whether to file an appeal, Village Attorney James Bateman said.

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