THORNTON | The Village Board on Tuesday unanimously approved a water rate increase that homeowners will notice when they receive their March water bills.
The bulk of the increase is the result of last year's expiration of a 30-year water contract between the city of Hammond and Chicago Heights.
"Hammond has now imposed the rate increase of $1.63 on Chicago Heights as well as all of the communities that Chicago Heights supplies water to," Village Administrator Jason Wicha said. "The new rate was imposed on us as of Nov. 12, 2012. The Village Board chose to absorb that rate increase until after the holidays."
Hammond's increase bumps the cost up to $2.20 per 1,000 gallons.
Wicha said homeowners will now pay $1.76 more per 1,000 gallons of water used, a 25 percent increase, from $5.09 per 1,000 gallons of water to $6.85. That includes the $1.63 increase from Hammond and an additional 13 cents per 1,000 gallons increase that was already scheduled.
"By ordinance, our water rates increase by 2 percent each year to reflect the increased operating cost to properly maintain the water system," Wicha said.
That 2 percent increase was scheduled to occur on May 1, but the Village Board decided to have it coincide with the $1.63 increase to avoid imposing two rate hikes in a short period of time.
Prior to the vote, Village President Jack Swan said he thought residents would more easily accept the full increase effective immediately than to have the additional 2 percent increase added in May.
"I personally think that it should be all at one time, right now," Swan said.
In other village news, the board approved the appointment of Barry Blackmore to Thornton's three-person Fire and Police Commission.
"He's been a resident for well over 20 years here and he's also now a retired Metra detective," Swan said.
Blackmore replaces Gary Packard, who had recently resigned.