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Water, sewer rate hikes set for Hampshire
By Larissa Chinwah | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 5/12/2009 1:55 PM

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Changes to Hampshire's water and sewer rates mean residents will pay more for services beginning this summer and notices will also appear in mailboxes more regularly.

But other users may actually pay a little less for water.

The village board last week approved a 14-percent increase for water rates and a 16-percent increase in its sewer rates. Beginning with bills sent out in July, residents will pay $4 per 1,000 gallons of water used for water - up from $3.50 per 1,000 gallons - and $5 for every 1,000 gallons of water used for the sewer charges. That rate is up from $4.30 per 1,000 gallons.

Village officials said the increases are needed to make up a budget deficit and cover operational costs in the village's water department.

"The costs for chemicals, staff salaries and operations have all increased, but our cost for water has stayed the same," Village President Jeff Magnussen said. "We have lost about $110,000 out of the water and sewer fund."

As an incentive for residents to use less water, the village has eliminated a minimum usage fee that had residents paying $12.25 for the first 5,000 gallons of water. Now, residents will pay for what they use, Village Administrator Eric Palm said.

Additionally, water and sewer bills, will be sent out every two months instead of every three months. Palm said billing customers more frequently will amount to smaller bills and also enable the village to pay its bills and staff.

"This will increase the village's cash flow," Palm said. "People we have talked to said they would prefer one smaller bill every two months instead of one large bill every four months."

But for those who fail to pay a water bill, disconnection fees will increase from $25 to $50. If a customer receives multiple violations in a 12-month period, the fee goes up to $100 per reconnect.

"We would rather have people make a good-faith effort to pay their bills and make a payment plan," Magnussen said. "The last thing we want to do is shut off someone's water."