RANTOUL – Rantoul residents can expect to pay higher water and sewer bills for each of the next three years under a proposal before the Rantoul Village Board.
Mark Beauchamp of Utility Financial Solutions, Holland, Mich., a utility consultant hired by the village to evaluate Rantoul's utility rates, is recommending raising water rates 8 percent and wastewater rates 9 percent for each of the next three years.
Beauchamp said the increases are necessary to pay for inflationary costs, maintenance and operations costs, capital improvement costs for the water and wastewater systems, building depreciation and debt service.
The village board will talk about Beauchamp's recommendations at its study session at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday at the Rantoul Municipal Building, 333 S. Tanner St.
If the rate increases are approved at the May 9 regular meeting, the first increase would take effect on June 1.
Village Administrator David Johnston said subsequent increases would begin in either May or June of 2007 and 2008.
Johnston said the rate increases are one way the village can meet its budget gap.
On April 11, the village board approved a budget that calls for Rantoul to spend $3.3 million more than it will receive.
"We have a lot of capital projects in the budget, and that is the reason for the reported $3.3 million deficit," Johnston said. "We have said we can't spend money we don't have."
Johnston said some of the capital projects are mandated by the state. Others are required by an intergovernmental agreement with Ludlow, providing that community with sewer service.
Later this year, the village board will consider issuing $7 million to $8 million in bonds for the capital projects. Beauchamp said paying off the bonds is included in the proposed rate increases.
In addition, Johnston said the village will review electricity rates later this year for possible adjustments.
Johnston said Rantoul citizens have been fortunate to pay lower utility rates until now because the Air Force paid for much of the costs of capital improvements. Now that Chanute is closed, Johnston said the village no longer has that luxury.
Rantoul Assistant Public Works Director Pete Passarelli said $3 million in water capital projects are planned for 2006-07, including:
– $1.75 million to rebuild the east water plant.
– $1 million to build a water loop to the new Alliance Resources industrial development.
– $150,000 to pay for a new well house and generator.
– $54,000 for water treatment work.
The plan also calls for spending $1 million on the water system in 2007-08 and $355,000 in 2008-09.
Passarelli said $2.3 million in wastewater capital projects are on tap for 2006-07, including:
– $610,000 for a new Willow Pond pump station to serve Golfview Village.
– $495,000 for the new Alliance Resources industrial development (the village's share will be $118,500).
– $433,000 for disinfection work.
– $385,000 for the new sanitary sewer line to Ludlow.
– $125,000 for sanitary sewer replacements.
– $125,000 for a new end loader.
– $169,500 for other projects.
The plan also calls for $1.4 million in wastewater projects in 2007-08 and $1.1 million in 2008-09.
Mayor Neal Williams said he supports proceeding with the capital projects.
"If we don't take care of our equipment and facilities now, we will pay a lot more later as the costs go up," Williams said.
Rantoul Comptroller Scot Brandon said Beauchamp was paid $9,500 to produce the utility rate study.
Brandon said that in February 2006, Rantoul's combined water and sewer charges ranked 48th lowest out of 54 central Illinois communities in a survey conducted by Berns Clancy and Associates.
The survey included communities that own utilities and communities with privately owned water or wastewater systems.