SHEFFIELD — The Sheffield Village Board voted to raise water and sewer rates during Monday’s meeting.
The increase proposal passed 5-1, with village trustee Terri Skiles casting the lone “no” vote. Trustee Wesley Barron was absent from the meeting.
The new rates will go into effect in the December bimonthly billing cycle. Residents will be impacted by four increases.
The base rate for water usage will increase 70 percent from $16.59 to $28.18. Any water used over the base rate will not be impacted. The water surcharge will also increase by $6 — from $12 to $18.
The sewer rate will increase 11.25 percent from $14.08 to $15.67. Sewer usage after the base rate will also increase 28 percent. So for those who use more than 300 cubic feet of water, which is the base rate, that extra usage would be calculated by .0600 for every cubic feet used, instead of .046764.
Garbage fees, although billed at the same time as water and sewer, will not be impacted in any way by this increase.
According to Sheffield’s village office manager Adrienne Reis, the overall minimum bill will see an increase of 31 percent. For comparison purposes, while the current minimum bill averages about $62.92, with the proposed changes, the average bill will increase about $20.
Before the board voted on the rate increases, village board member Max Thompson, who was chosen to fill a vacant seat on the board last month, said there’s a great need for the increase and express concern with the condition of the village’s water tower.
Thompson said he had done some research into what the cost would be if the village’s water tower, which is currently in poor condition, failed tomorrow, and compared loan rates the village would get from a local bank to what is being offered through the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
“If we had to spend money tomorrow, that money would be very expensive,” he said.
Thompson also pointed out the lack of revenue being generated in the water fund.
“Even if we don’t raise your rates, we can’t sustain what we’re doing right now,” he said.
Thompson did question village engineer Mike Perry of Chamlin and Associates, whether the increase for water had to be as high as 70 percent.
Perry explained the village’s water fund would be negative in two years if the rates were not increased. He said the village spends about $130,000 a year from the water fund and is only bringing in about $95,000 a year. Perry said the proposed rate increase would not build a huge surplus, but would help maintain a balance in the fund.
The village also needs money to pay for water infrastructure improvements. Not only is the water tower failing, but the village is also facing issues with antiquated water meters and leaking water pipes.
“If you push this off and do nothing, you’re just going to dig a deeper and deeper hole, and that’s just not responsible,” said village trustee Luke Lanxon.
The village is planning to apply for a 75 percent forgiveness loan through the Environmental Protection Agency in January to help cover the cost of needed repairs and improvements for its water and sewer infrastructure.
In other news, the village board:
• Approved the payment of $17,875 to Guither Tree Service for the removal of hazardous trees and limbs around the village. They board also approved an additional $1,000 to be spent on the removal of 10 tree stumps throughout the village.
• Approved allocating up to $15,000 to be spent on the construction of public restrooms at Veterans Park. The village is hopeful to have the foundation for the restrooms set by Saturday, Sept. 22, which is the annual Harvest Fest celebration. The monies used for the project will come from taxes collected from video gaming.