The City Council amended its Water Ordinances in response to the increase in water rates recently imposed by Hammond, at last night’s City Council meeting.
Prior to the Council vote, Mayor David A. Gonzalez gave a presentation to help explain the proposed amendments, telling those in attendance, “The City is trying to limit the impact that the increase in Hammond’s water rates will have on our residents and businesses.”
The City’s original 30-year contract expired on November 12th of this year and while it awaits a final decision from the Indiana courts, the City has realized the increased bills.
Highlights of the amendments are as follows:
Elimination of Community Service Fee:
The unpopular Community Service Fee is no more, as the Council unanimously approved to eliminate this line-item on the water bill in its entirety. The Community Service Fee was originally created in April 2000 to supplement the City’s General Fund; as well as help offset the loss suffered in the retail tax revenue when the new auto dealerships left the City.
Mayor Gonzalez explained that the City will need to find new sources of revenue to replace the approximate $1.5 million dollar loss resulting from the elimination of the Community Service Fee, especially with the critical need for updating the City’s aging water infrastructure. Noting he never wants to see a decrease in City Services, he also strongly believes intergovernmental agreements can help make up the shortfall, citing the agreement to provide emergency paramedic and fire suppression services to the Village of Olympia Fields, which created additional revenue of $500,000 annually.
Further, the Mayor said both the City and residents can do their part to help offset the Hammond increase. He urged residents to conserve more water and advised them to notify the City of any illegal water usage and to promptly report water leaks. For its part, the City has leak detection programs in place; has improved its billing and collections; and continues to test all meters for accuracy.
Water Service - Rates and Charges:
- Commencing January 1, 2013, the water rate for all customers will be five dollars and fifty cents ($5.50) per unit of usage. The former rate was two dollars and forty-seven cents ($2.47) per unit.
- Rates for industrial water use in excess of one-hundred million gallons per calendar year shall be negotiated as reflected by written contract approved by the City Council.
-Information released by the City of Chicago Heights