Water Bills Going Up in Plainfield: Board OKs Rate Hike

Officials said the village is coping with increasing costs for Lake Michigan water.

Plainfield's water rate is going up by 6 percent. Credit: File photo
Plainfield's water rate is going up by 6 percent. Credit: File photo

In 2013, Plainfield residents got a bit of a respite from increasing prices for Lake Michigan water.

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  • But with a 15 percent rate hike coming courtesy of the City of Chicago — and another 15 percent increase expected in 2015 — village officials Monday voted to increase Plainfield’s rate by 6 percent.

    Mayor Mike Collins broke a 3-3 tie vote, calling the cost increase “minimal” for Plainfield residents. According to the village, the rate hike will mean an additional cost of about $4.40 per month for the average resident. Trustees Dan Rippy, Paul Fay and Garrett Peck voted no, while Margie Bonuchi, Bill Lamb and Jim Racich voted yes.

    In a memo to the board, Village Administrator Brian Murphy noted that the village has worked to cut water and wastewater expenses to help keep rates down, including reducing labor costs by more than 20 percent over the last four years. The village has also decommissioned the old south wastewater plant, opening the more efficient north plant, which has helped cut water loss to an all-time low of 2 percent.

    The village’s water/sewer rate has increased by an average of 3 percent per year over the last decade, Murphy said, adding Plainfield currently has the third lowest rate in the area, following Romeoville and Joliet.

    Increasing rates for Lake Michigan water are nothing new; Chicago has boosted the cost in recent years dating back to 2008. In 2011, the rate jumped 25 percent.

    Collins said a previous village board voted to bring Lake Michigan water to Plainfield in 2003.

    “It was the best proposal we had,” he said, adding, “Our water quality has increased … This service is definitely needed by the village.”

    The village will continue to offer a 10 percent discounted rate for senior citizens.

    Vicky Polito December 17, 2013 at 10:41 AM
    This was the right decision, regardless of a few trustees not seeing it. The village staff/public works have done a great job working to avoid transferring the Lake Michigan water cost increases of 15%--one each for the next two years—to the citizens, but there’s only so much they can control. For all of us taxpayers, why is it always accepted to pay frequent increases for things like cell phones, tech gadgets, cable television, internet connectivity, frou-frou coffee, lunch out vs. brown bagging it, or a butt-warmer in your car, but it’s never acceptable to pay for the real necessities of life, even though there isn’t anyone who’d give those necessities up? Anybody out there want to go back to the crummy well water we used to have and pay extra to get gallon after gallon dropped at your door just to drink and cook? Somehow, people want the necessities to be the things that are cheap because heaven forbid they stop wasting far more money on discretionary items. That often shrieked advice of “don’t spend money you don’t have” can be applied directionally 360 degrees, people. Individual over-spending on non-essentials and poor management of resources at home doesn’t need to be subsidized by all taxpayers by increasing the cost of or even cutting other necessary public services. Maybe your water bill is high because you insist on having an unnaturally green lawn, or you let the faucet run while brushing your teeth, or you really love having a swimming pool. That’s up to you and so is paying for it, so just budget and spend accordingly. You can cry me a river on the water bill increase, but then be grateful that the water can be treated, delivered, used, and then whooshed away, all at an affordable rate.
    Ericus Alanas December 17, 2013 at 12:25 PM
    I don't think that deal with it or you could have well water is really an appropriate response, also it is difficult to compare rate increases in the public sector to the private sector. Luckily I'm on well water with a reverse osmosis system and I don't have to bend to the will of Detroit err... Chicago.
    Vicky Polito December 17, 2013 at 01:51 PM
    I don't mean deal with it or take well water, E. Alanas. I mean that we are getting better water now and so are getting something valuable for the money spent. Before it was water that was somewhat dangerous, not all that cheap and there was the added expense of bottled water if you chose that. For most people in Plainfield water will have to come from some service/public utility, not a well. We still have the 3rd cheapest water/sewage in the area, and I have gone and watched and listened to the public works people present their efforts and I know they are doing a good job at keeping increases to a minimum while still giving the people of Plainfield things they do really want and need. On your other point, I do think it's fair and appropriate to compare private and public sector expenses in this case. If the premise behind the votes against this increase is that the cost is too great or unfair a burden (and this was one of those lip-service statements made by a trustee last night—you know the kind), then you have to look at the rest of the balance sheet, at what the whole “burden” looks like, is made of, and who carries it.
    Ericus Alanas December 17, 2013 at 02:40 PM
    I agree that most people are getting better water. However it is still unfair to compare public and private sectors, where public sectors rarely fall in price, private is adjusted by the market. These rates could go up and up, where private could have a chance to provide water treatment systems and delivered water at a lower cost where the public has no options now. But since this is old news and the water is already available we are unfortunately at the will of Chicago politics.
    joe December 17, 2013 at 05:09 PM
    The City of S*itcago will do anything to raise money for their budget deficits. There is no "Adult Supervision" in that poor excuse for a city. I had a condo on the 30th floor on the corner of McClurg Ct and Illinois for 3 yrs before I sold it and moved way out here to Plainfield. You are taxed beyond comprehension in that city, and for everything possible. I'll pay the increase for good water here in Plainfield. I'm way ahead in saving my cash by living here where the air is clean, and I'm not staring at concrete all day long. I don't miss the sounds of sirens, horns, and the weekend crowds heading to Navy Pier. In my mind, there are no taxes here to shout about.
    GLK January 04, 2014 at 03:54 PM
    I understand the need for the rate hike, what I don’t care for is how Plainfield residents are unfairly charged for sewer services purely based on their water consumption, as defined by the rate information ($2.75/100 cubic feet of H2O) printed on every resident’s water bill, rather than how the water is used or consumed. When households use water in this village to irrigate their lawns, water their plants, wash their cars, etc. the water does not enter the waste water sewer system, rather it evaporates, is consumed by vegetation, or enters the storm drain system and retention ponds. So why should households have to pay a sewer charge for water used for irrigation purposes? Aren't the residents paying for sewer services in this case that are not being provided to them? Many other villages have identified and eliminated this inequity in one of two ways……. 1. Villages allow a separated meter to be installed to measure the amount of water used for irrigation purposes. 2. Villages base monthly waste water sewer charges for the year on the average water usage of households during the winter months. During winter most households tend to stay indoors and travel less frequently than other seasons and thus the water usage during this time provides a very good estimate of the households monthly water use associated with sewer system. Also, people don’t typically irrigate in the winter. Both solutions divide the water used by a household into two categories, 1) the amount used for irrigation and 2) the amount used internal to the home which is associated with the waste water sewer system. Each household is charged specifically and fairly based on the purpose the water was used for. In conclusion the billing system Plainfield currently utilizes is unfair in that it requires residents to pay for sewer services that are not rendered when water is used for irrigation. One of the two approaches above resolves the issue in a fair and equitable way and enables each household to pay only for the water services they use.


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