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Rahm's Budget Includes Water, Sewer Fee Increase

By Chuck Sudo in News on Oct 13, 2011 1:15PM

2011_10_13_wartermeters.jpg Mayor Rahm Emanuel formally unveiled his proposed 2012 City budget yesterday and, as the press release from his office indicated, Chicago residents will be paying more fees, fines and other taxes to help shrink a projected $636 million shortfall.

In addition to the increase in the hotel tax, a "congestion fee" to be charged on residents and suburban workers who drive into the city for their jobs, declaring a temporary TIF surplus, cutting back on library hours, closing three police stations and eliminating jobs, the mayor proposed a 25 percent increase in water and sewer fees for 2012 that would help fund a revamp of the city sewer system.

If you're one of the 316,000 homeowners in Chicago without a water meter you better call the City Water Department to have a free one installed ASAP or start taking Navy Showers. The proposed water fee hike will cost homeowners an average of $120 and, seeing as there's no rhyme or reason to how water bills are calculated since so many homes don't have meters, someone's going to pay more than his fair share.

One silver lining in the water hike is that, for now, Emanuel hasn't proposed privatizing the city water system. He's also come to the realization Gov. Pat Quinn won't be signing the stalled casino legislation anytime soon. Emanuel has used the city sewer system as Exhibit "A" to call for Quinn to sign the bill, saying the revenues from a Chicago casino could go to modernize thee network.

Emanuel also framed his budget as a jobs bill, using the revenue collected from fee increases to reinvest in Chicago's infrastructure. A proposed $14.8 million increase in city sticker fees for SUV’s would fill 160,000 potholes, he said