Palos Heights Alderman Don Bylut explains why water and sewer rate hikes are needed in the city. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Palos Heights Alderman Don Bylut explains why water and sewer rate hikes are needed in the city. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Palos Heights water and sewer rates going up due to expensive projects ahead

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By Jeff Vorva

Palos Heights Alderman Donald Bylut, who heads the city’s Water and Sewer Committee, has been looking into the future and doesn’t like what he sees.

There is an aging infrastructure that is already handing the city some pretty steep bills and there are more hefty price tags ahead.

“We have a 10-year plan but at this rate, we will run out of money in 2027 in our reserve fund,” he said.

To offset that, the city council on Tuesday, March 21, voted 6-1 for a 4% increase in single family and commercial water rates and a 50% increase in the sewer charge rate for single family and commercial/industrial customers. It’s the first increase since 2019.

The figures sound staggering and resident Harlan Weivoda had his say about it before the vote.

“I’ve heard how well funded the city is,” he said. “Now all of a sudden, you want to whack us with a 50% charge because you haven’t raised the rates since 2019? Shame on you guys for not raising them since 2019.”

He suggested a plan of raising the rates 20%, 20% and 10% over the next three years.

Bylut admitted that when this was discussed at the March 7 council meeting he could have explained the pricing a little better.

“The reason that the sewer charge is going up 50% is because that’s the money that goes into our reserve fund for our big projects,” Bylut said. “It’s less than $7 a month. Fifty percent sounds like an awesome amount but in reality, it’s going to cost every household just under $7 a month.

“I’m not making light of that, but I think the reality sounds better than the proposal does when it’s put down in paper.”

Alderman Jerry McGovern was absent from the meeting and Fourth Ward Alderman Michael McGrogan voted “no.” Even though McGrogan believed that fundamentally, the rate increase is justified and needed, he didn’t want to put an extra burden on some of the residents in his ward who he said have been going 30 years with poor service.

“On this one, I’m going to vote ‘no’,” McGrogan said. “I represent two subdivisions that have been straddled with that South Palos Sanitary District since the inception back in 1989.

“Already, the people in those two developments are not getting anything from the sanitary district, so in a way, this is adding insult to injury for the people in those two communities who are already not getting anything.”

Mayor Bob Straz weighed in, saying that repairs and replacements should be made sooner rather than waiting for something major to go wrong.

“It’s a 50-year-old town and a 50-year-old water system that we have,” Straz said. “We don’t want to wait around for it to break. We’ve seen on TV where towns have run out of water and things going on and we don’t want to get to that point.”

Meeting cancelled

The April 4 city council meeting was cancelled because it falls on Election Day.

There is only one contested race for a council seat as incumbent Brent Lewandowski faces off against George Popelka in the Third Ward.

Jeffrey Key (1st Ward), Robert Basso (2nd) and McGrogan (4th) are unopposed.

1 Comment

  1. Ricky on March 24, 2023 at 4:19 pm

    Then move to Crestwood the Water is Cheaper



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