Multifamily buildings, businesses, institutions and single-family residential properties in Riverside that use large amounts of water will see their bimonthly bills go up in 2022 when the village implements a new fee structure that aims to more equitably charge for water service.

Since 2018, Riverside water customers, regardless of how much water they use or how heavily they tax the sewer system, have been charged a bimonthly $30 water/sewer infrastructure fee.

That fee brings in an estimated $550,000 annually specifically to fund water and sewer projects. However, in response to more frequent severe storm events and repeated basement flooding, elected officials would like to ramp up its campaign to separate storm and sanitary sewers.

The existing $30 water/sewer infrastructure fee won’t collect enough money to finance the issuance of $11 million in bonds over the next decade to fund those projects. Instead of increasing that fee to $45 by 2031, as was discussed by trustees this summer, trustees have decided to eliminate the infrastructure fee and increase the village’s water rates by $3 per unit, which is 100 cubic feet (about 750 gallons) of water.

By raising the water fee by $3 per unit, the village will receive an estimated $804,000 annually to fund the future debt. It’s possible that rate could be adjusted further in future years.

Eliminating the water/sewer infrastructure fee in favor of a general rate increase also means those customers using the most water will bear a greater burden financially.

“The goal is to keep the majority of people without really paying an increased amount,” said Village President Joseph Ballerine during a discussion of the change at the Oct. 21 village board meeting. “I always felt that the $30 infrastructure fee was somewhat unfair to the average resident considering the amount of water the average resident uses and the amount of water that a multifamily [building] uses or an aquatic center. I think this is much more in balance.”  

Under the new rate structure, according to information provided to the village board by Finance Director Karin Johns, customers receiving minimum bills (there is a minimum charge of 5 units of water) will see their bimonthly bills fall from $94 to $79.

The average water customer (11 units) will see their bill rise only slightly, from $170 bimonthly to $173, a 1.7-percent increase.

By contrast, a large restaurant (based on an estimated 75 units) would see the bimonthly charge rise from $984 to $1,179, while a large multifamily building (450 units) would see its bill increase from $5,754 to $7,074.

Institutions like schools (500 units) would see bills jump from $6,390 to $7,860, while aquatic facilities, like the Riverside Swim Club, which can use around 700 units could see bimonthly bills rise from $8,934 to $11,004, an increase of 23 percent.

The new water rate structure will be adopted as part of the 2022 budget in December.