City Council OKs water rate increase, $13.1M maintenance project to begin

By Leah Nicolini

City Council approved (6-1) ordinance 2015-044 to raise water rates to fund a $13.1 million water maintenance project.

Fees will increase by 2.22 percent in 2016 and 4.5 percent from 2017 to 2020. NIU’s water bill will increase by $16,000 in 2016.

The 10-year plan will fix the water supply well, improve water treatment, recoat a water tower and replace the water main.

First Ward Alderman Jacobson voted against the ordinance because he said he believes DeKalb is too financially unstable to commit to water repairs.

“The city has been making a significant amount of money charging what we’ve been charging for many years,” Jacobson said. “And we’ve been taking that money and pouring it in other funds and putting back into the general fund and moving that money around to fund other non-infrastructure related items.

“Had we done what we were supposed to do in the first place and save that money and put it into an infrastructure account, we wouldn’t be in this situation. But again, it’s a constant mismanagement of resources over decades that has led us to where we are now.”

In lieu of the water rate increase, the city council passed (5-2) resolution 2015-118 to establish a tax levy ceiling for the tax year 2015 at about $8 million.