Starting next month, Riverside homeowners will see their water bills going up by $180 annually after the Riverside Village Board voted to impose a bimonthly $30 water-and-sewer infrastructure fee to help pay for improvements and ongoing maintenance to those systems.

 The fee is expected to generate $540,000 annually to pay for improvements and debt service payments the village has already undertaken and expects to take on in the future. According to the village’s Capital Improvement Plan, Riverside during the next decade plans on spending $6 million in water and sewer system improvements.

Those projects include about $1 million in work during 2018, including $700,000 for improvements to the Coonley Road water main and $300,000 in street repairs needed after last year’s storm sewer separation project in the First Division.

Riverside Finance Director Karin Johns told village trustees at their meeting on March 15 that current debt service obligations and planned improvements in coming years would eliminate the water and sewer fund’s cash reserves after 2021.

By 2022, without additional revenue to help pay for improvements and debt service, the water and sewer fund would be carrying a negative balance of more than $1 million, which would have to subsidized through general operating funds if future work were to proceed as planned.

“The recommendation of the infrastructure fee would stabilize these funds,” Johns said.

The water and sewer fund is separate from the village’s general operating fund, which is funded through property taxes, state shared taxes, fines, investment income and license and permit fees.

Instead, water and sewer operations are paid for through a special “enterprise fund,” whose revenue comes from water charges, sewer fees and things like the special infrastructure fee.

The village of North Riverside instituted its own $30 bimonthly infrastructure fee in 2014, although it amended that fee in 2017, lowering it to $10 for senior citizens. North Riverside also decided to charge other customers on a sliding scale, depending on the size of the water meter, with $30 being the basic single-family home rate.

Riverside’s new infrastructure fee will make the village’s already high water rates even higher compared to neighboring communities.

A typical Riverside customer now pays about $1,365 annually for water and sewer charges in Riverside, a bit below North Riverside’s roughly $1,375, according to information provided by Johns to the village board.

Typical customers in Brookfield pay about $1,220 annually.

With the new infrastructure fee, the typical Riverside customer as of April 1 will be paying about $1,545 annually in water and sewer fees.