Brookfield village trustees appear ready to pass a new water service agreement with the Chicago Zoological Society in two weeks, one similar to the deal the two sides have had in place for the past 20 years.

The old deal expired April 30. Since then the two sides had been unable to come to an agreement and have been locked in a battle for public opinion over the village’s attempts to reap more revenue from the zoo.

On Monday night, Village President Michael Garvey announced a new 10-year deal for water service that will charge the zoo for water at cost, plus a 5-percent utility tax passed by the village board in August. In addition, the zoo will pay a maintenance surcharge of $107,500, which will increase by 2.5 percent each year.

By the end of the deal in 2020, Brookfield Zoo’s maintenance surcharge will amount to just over $134,252 or about 25 percent more than the 2010 surcharge. In its original 1989 water services deal with Brookfield, the zoo’s surcharge started at $90,000 and increased to $105,000 by the end of the contract, an increase of 17 percent over 20 years.

It’s not clear what kind of revenue the 5 percent utility tax would bring from the zoo, since it depends on water usage and future water rates. Based on the zoo’s 2009 water charges, it would have had to pay an additional $25,500 had the tax been in place then.

Trustees weren’t unanimous in their opinions about the proposed deal which will receive a formal vote at the board’s Nov. 8 meeting. The vote to instruct the village attorney to draft the new ordinance based on the terms disclosed Monday was 3 to 3, with Village President Michael Garvey breaking the tie.

Voting against the deal were trustees Michael Towner, Brian Oberhauser and Yvonne Prause.

Towner read a prepared statement criticizing the deal as one-sided in favor of the zoo, and suggested the zoo wasn’t pulling its own weight with respect to water payments.

“How do I tell the mother of a special needs child that the zoo, with all of its resources, doesn’t need to share in this system as equitably as she?” Towner asked. “How do I tell the grocery store owner, the school district?

“In these economic times, it becomes even more important for every member of the community to do their share. All I am doing as a trustee is bringing the Chicago Zoological Society Inc. to an equitable level as other members of our community, no more, no less.”

Oberhauser stated he could not support the new water services deal with the zoo. While acknowledging the zoo’s opinion that paying what other water customers pay for water would be onerous, he felt the proposed deal didn’t go far enough.

“I would suggest instead of a full increase at once that a graduated plan be devised, where the zoo eventually becomes a full partner by paying the exact same rate, but do so over the course of several years so the zoo, which does long-term budgetary planning, has an opportunity to adjust,” Oberhauser said.

Whether the village will ever again be able to charge the zoo for water at the same rate as other customers remains unclear. However, it may have been the threat to impose that rate that got the zoo to agree to the new deal after refusing to sign another one-year extension to the old deal in May.

“You’d have to ask them,” said Village Manager Riccardo Ginex. “But they saw the village was going to stand firm. We had no option. We had to have an agreement in place.”

Ginex said he thought the new deal was a good one.

“I and the village think it’s a very good agreement,” Ginex said. “It protects the village, the zoo and the water commission.”

Matt Mayer, vice president of governmental affairs for the Chicago Zoological Society declined comment on the proposed deal, except to confirm that a tentative agreement had been reached. That news was e-mailed to Brookfield Zoo members this morning.

Garvey left Monday’s meeting immediately following the board’s vote on the proposal to attend to a family medical issue. He could not be reached prior to press time.