Tri States Public Radio Staff
Tue March 2, 2010
The Carrot, The Stick, & The City of Macomb
Macomb, IL – Macomb aldermen gave final approval to a hefty hike in the city's water rates. The plan is upsetting some people who live outside city limits.
The rate paid by all water customers will rise 20% on May 1. Customers outside the city - such as residents of the Meadowbrook and Georgetown subdivisions - will also have 20% added to the surcharge they pay.
Richard Moreno, who serves on the board of the Meadowbrook Community Association, wonders if Macomb is trying to punish nearby subdivisions for refusing to annex into the city.
"Sometimes the carrot works better than the stick. I feel like we get a lot of stick," says Moreno.
Moreno says the surcharge was $10 for a number of years. It was doubled last year. Now, under the plan approved March 1, it will be $24.
"Where does it end?" wonders Moreno. "I think they're trying to reach a point where the amount we pay in water rates is equal to the difference between the taxes paid on property in the county versus the amount paid in the city limits. It's a back door way of taxing us."
Moreno says the city did not notify Meadowbrook residents about the increase in the surcharge.
Moreno thinks it might be time for Meadowbrook to work with Georgetown in finding a new source for water.
"We already have our own sewer system. It's not that far of a stretch to consider looking at other alternatives for water," says Moreno.
Meadowbrook Community Association Pam Moreno also says subdivision residents might be forced to look elsewhere for water.
"If I make a rough calculation of how much money the city receives from overcharging residents of Georgetown and Meadowbrook for water, I come up with a figure in the neighborhood of $150,000 per year. Unfortunately for the city, this is revenue that potentially will be lost if you continue down this road," says Pam Moreno.
The city says it's increasing water rates to pay for water plant improvements and to make up for the many years when rates held steady while operating costs increased.
Aldermen also voted in favor of a 2% increase in sewer rates. That increase also takes effect May 1.