City passes new water rate class and collection of stormwater fees

admin City Council, News, Sanitary District

September 28, 2014 – Rob Earnshaw

The City Council has adopted two water-related ordinances.

The council voted 9-0 recently on an addition of a new class of water rate for commercial properties in the city. Because there is only a residential and industrial water rate class, commercial properties were paying the same $1.55 per thousand gallons as residents. Beginning Wednesday, commercial properties will pay $3.28.

“For a very long time residents have been subsidizing the commercial class in the city of Hammond, said Marty Wielgos, sanitary district manager. “It’s fair, it makes sense and it’s long overdue.”

Wielgos said the resident sanitary rate of $1.55 is the lowest in the state.

The council also approved a change in how the city collects its stormwater fee from residents. The approval means the monthly storm-sewer fee will be taken off the water bill for residents and businesses and moved to the tax bill.

The $12 annual fee for households would increase to $60 that would be paid twice a year through the homeowner’s tax bills. Business and commercial users would pay according to land use code as determined by Lake County for tax purposes.

Officials said it’s the first rate increase in stormwater since its inception 15 years ago. Wielgos said $1 a month is not enough just to keep up with the cost of chemicals. The increase also would make Hammond comparable to other communities in Lake County.

“It’s a way to put the sanitary district in a better financial picture than what it’s been for 20-some years,” Wielgos said.

The council voted 8-1 on the stormwater fee ordinance with Councilman Anthony Higgs, D-3rd, voting against it.