McHenry increases water rates

McHENRY – Water rates in McHenry will creep up again this year.

The McHenry City Council unanimously approved raising water rates by the rate of inflation, which was 1.3 percent during the 12-month period that ended in October.

That brings the combined rate to $6.60 a 1,000 gallons plus $3 in additional fees, or about $45.90 for a 6,500-gallon bill, according to council documents. Last year, the same bill would have totaled $45.38 a month.

The rate increase goes into effect Feb. 1.

Despite the increase, McHenry still falls on the lower end of area water rates, which ranged last year from $42.74 for using 6,500 gallons a month in Huntley to $68.52 for the same water usage in Fox River Grove.

Except for a three-year stint that ended two years ago, the city always has raised water rates by the rate of inflation.

That policy wasn’t enough to keep the city’s water and sewer fund out of a deficit, so in 2008, city staff and the Finance and Personnel Committee recommended increasing rates by 7 percent for three years in order to reduce the deficit and cover system maintenance and improvements.

The water division also reduced expenses to help cover the gap, which ran $200,000 in the 2008-09 fiscal year.

With operating costs continuing to rise and additional maintenance and improvements expected, the City Council also unanimously approved a formal rate study to figure out what the city should be charging in the coming years.

Alderman Andy Glab said he hoped the study also would look at ways the water division can save money instead of just at raising rates.