WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Macomb Rate Hikes in the Offing

Macomb, IL – Macomb aldermen have talked about increasing water and sewer rates. Now they're getting ready to finalize the new rates.

The city council on February 16 will hold first reading of an ordinance to increase water rates by 20% and sewer rates by 2%. Aldermen reviewed the plan during their February 8 Committee of the Whole meeting.

City Administrator Dean Torreson says the water rate increase is needed to pay for recent water plant improvements, future water system improvements, and to make up for the many years when rates held steady while operating costs increased.

"We're trying to dig ourselves out of a deep hole here," says Torreson. "I think we're on the cusp of getting that accomplished."

Torreson says there has been a lot of deferred maintenance on the water distribution system.

Alderman At Large Dennis Moon concurs.

"We've neglected it, the same way we neglected our streets for a lot of years. We're playing catch-up. Our rates, even with these large increases, are still below the average of most of the comparable communities," says Moon.

Moon says the money is needed if the city wants to continue providing the services.

Moon also says the 20% water rate hike has always been part of the council's discussion so none of the aldermen should be shocked by the figure.

Torreson says this would be the fourth consecutive year for a hike in the water rate. But he says the rate had not been raised for around 15 years before that.

The city also says the hike will help stabilize the water fund. The fund will need a $200,000 loan from the sewer fund in the coming year to stay out of the red.

Torreson says once the water fund is out of the hole and accumulates some money, the first order of business will be to paint the inside and outside of the two water towers. He says that work has not been done for many decades. A rough estimate of the cost to paint both towers is $750,000.