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City of Elmhurst Announces Water and Sewer Rate Adjustments to Support Vital Infrastructure Upgrades

City of Elmhurst Announces Water and Sewer Rate Adjustments to Support Vital Infrastructure Upgrades

Links provided here for more information, including a list of frequently asked questions and financial assistance .

The Finance, Council Affairs and Administrative Services (FCAAS) Committee of the City of Elmhurst has deliberated extensively on the Municipal Utility Fund (MUF) rates, culminating in a proposal to adjust water and sewer rates. This adjustment is essential to ensure the sustainability of the City’s water and sewer utility and to facilitate critical infrastructure upgrades. The FCAAS Committee, having convened numerous times on this topic, most recently on January 22, 2024, discussed the need for changes in response to crucial factors impacting the City’s water and sewer infrastructure.

Background

 The MUF operates as a self-sustaining enterprise fund, supporting the City’s water and sewer utility. Unlike government funds, the MUF relies solely on user charges to cover operational and capital expenses. No property taxes support the MUF.  Traditionally, the City reviews and sets rates annually, with periodic rate studies to determine that the rates are sufficient to provide for the operating and capital expenses of the MUF.

The last rate study was conducted in 2019.  Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic and the extra-ordinary financial uncertainty Elmhurst residents faced, the rates from the 2019 study were not implemented until 2021.  As City staff prepared for the 2022 rate review, it became apparent that market conditions had rendered the 2019 study obsolete.  The MUF system costs in the 2019 study were prior to inflation increases and supply chain disruptions that affected the normal replacement cycle for water and sewer mains.  Notably, the Consumer Price Index increased 18% from August 2020 to August 2023.   Due to these factors, in March, 2023, the City Council approved an updated Water and Sewer rate study to ensure the user rates are based on current conditions. 

Infrastructure Upgrades

The proposed increase in rates is driven by the needed infrastructure improvements.  The increase to the City’s operating costs for the MUF, such as salaries and services, only increased by 2.3% from the 2019 to 2023 study, well below the consumer price index increase of 18% over the same period.  However, the City’s capital needs for the MUF have grown by 106%. 

The aging water and sewer infrastructure in Elmhurst requires substantial repairs and replacements. In 2024, major upgrades to the Water Reclamation Facility will take place, addressing components that are approximately 30 years old. These improvements include clarifiers, excess flow/chlorine contact tanks, disinfection equipment, boiler systems, and a non-potable water system.  The City must also prepare for an unfunded state and federal mandate to remove phosphorus in the treatment process, by August 31, 2031.  This mandate requires that the City begin a new phase of reconstruction to the plant over the next several years, to be in compliance by that deadline. The capital plan for the Water Reclamation Facility includes $78.8 million in necessary investments through 2031.

Moreover, a significant portion of the city’s water main, averaging 62 years old, needs replacement. Nearly one-third of the existing system is older than life expectancy while nearly two-thirds will be older than life expectancy by 2040.  To maintain reliable water service, an annual water main replacement program of approximately $5 million is proposed.  This will allow the City to sustain a 100-year replacement schedule.  An annual sewer repair, maintenance and replacement program of approximately $4 million is proposed.

The FCAAS Committee noted in its report that deferring replacements would only increase replacement costs in the future and be detrimental to the reliability of the water and sewer system. 

Rate Adjustments  Considering these factors, the recommended adjustments to water and sewer rates are as follows.

Thousand Gallon Rates

Residential

Commercial

 

Current

New

Current

New

DuPage Water Commission

$5.18

$5.60

$5.18

$5.60

Water

$6.44

$9.02

$12.54

$17.56

Sewer

$8.18

$11.45

$8.18

$11.45

 

Capital Investment Recovery Charges (CIRC)

 

CIRC Rates (flat, bimonthly)

Meter Size

Current

New

>= 1”

$38.60

$42.88

1.5”

$77.07

$171.53

2”

$123.26

$304.90

3”

$246.70

$686.12

4”

$385.47

$1,219.58

6”

$770.89

$2,744.49

 

Impact on Average Bill

A typical family of four using 10,000 gallons per billing period would have a bi-monthly bill of $303.58, an increase in its bi-monthly water and sewer bill of $66.98 or 28.3%.   This equates to a cost of $0.03 per gallon of water and sewer service. 

Recommendation and Implementation

 The FCAAS Committee issued a report to City Council recommending changing the water rate, sewer rate, unmetered well rate, and capital investment recovery charges as outlines, effective for usage billed on or after March 1, 2024.   This report was approved by City Council at the February 5, 2024 meeting.

The City of Elmhurst acknowledges the impact of these rate adjustments on residents and businesses and emphasizes the importance of maintaining a reliable water and sewer system for the community’s well-being.  The FCAAS Committee has proposed a discount for those senior citizen households who receive the Senior Assessment Freeze on their property tax bill. 

Links provided here for more information, including a list of frequently asked questions and financial assistance .