WOOD RIVER — Wood River City Council members voted 3-2 to approve an increase in water and sewer rates Monday.
“The council has been looking at different options over the last six months before coming to this decision,” Mayor Frank Akers said. “It’s like a homeowner having to replace their roof. It’s a cost they don’t want to pay, but if they don’t replace their roof they’ll have a bigger and more costly problem in the long run. While the citizens don’t like seeing a bill increase, the majority I’ve spoken to have been understanding.”
He said the city has not increased water rates in 12 years and sewer rates in 30 years, and the rates have been subsidized for years. He also said the increase (water going from $2.46 to $2.83 per 1,000 gallons, a 15 percent increase; and sewer rates going from $1.76 to $5 per 1,000 gallons, a 187 percent increase, a combined increase of $3.61 per 1,000 gallons) keeps Wood River in the bottom 25 percent regarding rates in Illinois.
“With the rate increase we will end subsidizing within three years,” Akers said. “After five years we will be building reserves for infrastructure improvements. We had roughly 50 sinkholes last year due to the 80- to 90-year-old sewer and water lines below ground. Everyone assumes things are fine because those lines are not seen, but we will need to invest in those sooner rather than later.”
With the average water usage, a resident will see an approximate increase of $10 per billing cycle the first year. The second and third year will show an additional increase with the approved plan.
Council members Scott Miner and Cheryl Maguire voted no, with Tom Stalcup, Sharon Kadell and Akers supporting the increase, which goes into effect May 1.