Plan would hike DuPage County water rates

October 26, 2011 (ELMHURST, Ill.)

ABC7's John Garcia has more on how much more people will pay and how it will affect businesses.

For 31 years they have been serving customers at the Elmhurst Family Restaurant. But the last few have been tough, according to owner Peter Bizios. The tight economy has narrowed his profit margins considerably. And the proposed increase in water bills next year would be even more difficult.

"I hope they don't do it. It's very hard, very hard," said Bizios. "We barely make it right now with the bills."

The DuPage County Water Commission approved Wednesday night a proposal that would increase rates 85 percent over the next four years.

Commissioners say they have no choice; they are passing along the increase the city of Chicago is charging them.

"We knew some increase was coming at this point, so we were planning for it," said water commission chairman Jim Jay. "We just didn't know what the number was."

Water is a huge expense for car washes and a big increase in water rates will have a big impact on the bottom line.

"At some point we have to cut down on something on our side," said car wash owner Hosi Mehta. "We have to charge more, so it will cost more for everyone concerned."

The rate increase would affect about 900,000 DuPage County customers, most of whom get their bills from local municipalities with no say in the matter.

"Unfortunately this is Chicago's challenge financially, and they're putting that burden on others," said Elmhurst Mayor Pete Dicianni.

The board now passes along its rate increase recommendations to communities. Residents will have 21 days to comment. After that the board makes its final vote in November.

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