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New Berlin Considers Water Rate Hike
A week after their partner in the South Sangamon Water Commission raised its water rates, the village of New Berlin is considering doing the same.
New Berlin and Chatham have been getting their water through the jointly-run commission since last year. A variety of factors have recently caused the commission's wholesale rate price for the villages to go up. This caused the Chatham Village Board to raise its rates last week, and the New Berlin Village Board will consider the same at its Wednesday night meeting.
New Berlin increased its rates through a series of increases at the beginning of its partnership with Chatham, said Village Trustee and Director of the Utilities Committee Joel Sander. Trustees believed the rates would be sufficient for the first two years, but when the commission raised its rates by $1, the they had to reconsider.
Sander said they took it up at their past committee of the whole meeting.
"What we talked about was to hold off on any water rate increases until Jan. 1," Sander said.
But after Jan. 1, the rates would go up to $23 for the first 1,000 gallons and $5.75 for every subsequent 1,000 gallons.
"So for the average user in the Village of New Berlin, which is about 5,000 gallons of water a month, it's going to raise the rates about $2," Sander said.
Chatham officials had estimated their rate hike would increase the average user's 5,500-gallon water bill by $6. Their rate increase was approved 4-3 and water users will see the difference in their next bill.
Officials have said they may to increase the rate again in the spring.
At Shepp's Bar and Grill in New Berlin, owner Steve Sheppard said he paid $215 for 18,300 gallons in August. If water rates were to go up, he said, so would his prices.
"Where our business is really down now because we've had to raise the prices a little bit," Sheppard said. "I don't know what will happen if we raise 'em again - probably go out of business."
Sander said he believes the South Sangamon Water Commission's wholesale rate increase was due to cost overruns, lower water usage and increased bond rates.
"We're hoping that maybe we won't have to raise rates again, and possibly we can bring rates down," Sheppard said. "But that hardly ever happens."