Macomb aldermen approve increase to water and trash fees

MACOMB, Ill. (NEWS3) — Macomb residents will have to pay more for water and trash service starting next month.

This comes after the Macomb City Council voted in favor of the measure, 5-2, Monday night to raise fees by $5.25 overall.

The increase means residents will pay $3 more for the water debt service, an additional $1 for garbage pickup and another $1.25 for the average resident’s water bill.

Aldermen Gayle Carper and John Vigezzi were the councilmen who voted against the proposed fee hike.

“I’ve voted against an increase in debt service fees in the past because I don’t like the idea of a flat fee on every user,” Carper said. “It has a disproportionate effect on people of lower income and fixed incomes. It seems even more important to me now with people losing their jobs. I could see a different argument for the water and solid waste fees. I’m not in favor of voting on all of them together.”

“I’ve also received some calls in reference to this,” Vigezzi said. “Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, a number of people have lost their jobs and I completely understand why we’re trying to do this; we do need to make sure we’re covering all of our bills as we’re moving forward. Unfortunately the timing of this is not ideal for people. I have expressed to people in my ward that if we do not do this or maybe moved it down the road, that could potentially be a higher rate next year.”

Aldermen Tom Koch, Annette Carper, Tammie Leigh Brown-Edwards, Dennis Moon and Mike Wayland voted to pass the increase.

“Years ago, we went to the debt service because the rate increases were not keeping up with the required money to pay off improvements to the water plant,” Moon said. “That’s why we went to a debt retirement plan, to raise the rates enough to cover that, we would be over the top on rates to other comparable communities.”

“I believe that we have to take care of our bills,” Annette Carper said. “We cannot help that the city is in a contract with Waste Management, and that bill and our water bill has gone up. So, I think we are obligated, unfortunately, that cost has to go to the consumer. We’re all generally concerned about the debt service. I think it’s important for the public to know that we haven’t had an increase in rates since 2014. While I think it is a terrible time, it’s a terrible time for everyone, but is next year going to be a better time.”

Mayor Mike Inman said the increase is due to the city paying higher costs to maintain water treatment.

“We’ve tried to absorb those costs the best we could,” Mayor Mike Inman said. “Whether that be chemical costs, which are a real driver for our water process, which is around $400,000 a year for the chemical costs to treat the water. Those have continued to increase, and of course other inflationary pressure when it comes to wages and things like that. Some other things that are playing into the rate increase are the decline in population, enrollment at the university, and us users trying to cover the routine costs of producing water. And also because of reduction of consumption due to conservation, but it still requires us to incur expenses to the water and we’re committed to maintaining obviously EPA compliance regardless of how much we’re consuming, there’s some fixed costs there we can no longer feel comfortable absorbing.”

Inman said the increases will bring in about $23,000 in revenue per month for the city. Residents will be responsible for paying this new increase on their bill due by May 25.