Minooka Officials Hash Out Details on Financial Plan for Grand Prairie Water Commission
Details on how to finance the Village of Minooka’s $20 million stake in the Grand Prairie Water Commission that would bring Lake Michigan water to town were reviewed by trustees at a committee of the whole workshop held last week.
Village Administrator Dan Duffy says a gradual water rate increase to $13.00 per 1,000 gallons may be in order by 2030, but there are other factors that could come into play.
“We’re looking at IEPA loans to help pay for this increase,” Duffy said. “By getting low-interest loans in the 2% mark we’re able to pay that back over years, we won’t have to affect that rate dramatically. We can gradually increase it. We’re also looking at the home-rule option. Home-rule has been very successful for some of our neighboring residents. Channahon’s home-rule. They’ve had several motor fuel taxes put on that have helped them keep their other operating costs in the village low, whether it be police services, public works services.”
Minooka had enlisted the services of Ehlers Inc. to perform a water rate study to help determine how the village can generate its local share of funding to finance plans for an alternative water source. The analysis indicated to officials that the village was losing money on water operations.
Duffy says that is when the village board decided to increase the water rates last year.
The average water user is currently paying the village $5.25 per 1,000 gallons, officials said.
Duffy says the village’s water rates are expected to remain competitive with neighboring communities, even with the annual increases that are anticipated moving forward.
“To give you an idea of where we’re at, some of our neighbors—Plainfield is around $10.00 per 1,000 gallons, Channahon is about $6.50 per 1,000 gallons,” Duffy said. “Joliet is in the $6.00 range, as well. So, us bringing this up to $5.25, we’re still lower than our neighbors. But it’s working because it’s allowing us to break-even and not lose money anymore.”
Duffy explains where the $20 million in funding would go.
“What that $20 million mark really stands for is pipes coming off the main line coming out of Joliet, which will be bringing down the Lake Michigan water, so pipes spider-webbing off of that,” Duffy said. “We’ll have several days worth of reserves, so we’ll have to have storage facilities. Right now, we have several water towers. We’ll need about three more just to set aside reserves in case the Lake Michigan pipe needs to be worked on. It can be shut off. We’ll have reserves on hand to keep the water on. So, the interior piping infrastructure and water reserves will cost about $20 million, so that’s what we are currently working on—how to fund that.”
Duffy says trustees are still firming up details on a financial plan for the regional water commission, but more information will be presented at a future meeting.
The Grand Prairie Water Commission is made up by the communities of Minooka, Joliet, Channahon, Crest Hill, Shorewood and Romeoville.