Water bills are on the rise again in Riverside after village trustees voted last month to increase water and sewer rates 4.93 percent.

That means single-family residential water customers who are charged the village’s “minimum,” which is five units (500 cubic feet of water) per billing cycle, will see their bi-monthly bill increase from $78.60 to $82.50, or $23.40 annually.

The “average” single-family residential water customer, estimated at 11 units (1,100 cubic feet of water), will see the bimonthly charge increase from $172.92 to $181.50, or $51.48 annually.

The rate increase, which was retroactive to June 1, followed on the heels of the village’s administration agreeing to a new union contract with public works employees. That five-year contract included a 4.93 percent pay increase for employees, retroactive to Jan. 1.

That increase, along with an increase in May in the cost of water to Riverside from its supplier, the village of McCook, led trustees to raise water rates for the second time in 2022.

In January, the village raised its water rate by 14 percent and its sewer rate by 71.75 percent in an effort to both charge more equitably for water and to fund future sewer improvements.

At the same time, the village board eliminated a $30 bi-monthly infrastructure fee, which had been charged to all water customers no matter how much water they used. That had a net effect of actually lowering water bills for those being charged the bi-monthly minimum, and only slightly increasing bills for average single-family residential water customers.

Water customers using large amounts of water, however, saw their bills rise much more. For example, after the January rate hike, large multifamily buildings would have seen bimonthly bills rise by about $1,300. The bimonthly increase to schools was pegged at about $1,500 and the Riverside Swim Club could have expected its bimonthly bill to increase by $2,100.

This latest 4.93-percent increase approved in June will also hit the larger capacity water users hardest, with bimonthly bills for large multifamily buildings, schools and the swim club expected to increase by about $350, $385 and $540, respectively.

Water meter replacement update

Meanwhile, Riverside had expected to get cracking on its village-wide water meter replacement initiative on Aug. 1, but supply chain woes have put a crimp into those plans.

According to Riverside Finance Director Karin Johns, the village had expected to take delivery of about 1,000 water meters but to date had received just a few hundred, many of those for larger commercial and institutional buildings.

The village board in June did, however, officially ratify how much it would charge water customers for their new meters. Anyone whose water meter has not been changed out in the past 10 years will need to pay the full amount of about $295 for a new one.

That charge will be reduced on a pro-rated basis for customers who have had meters changed within the past 10 years, with those who have paid for a new meter within the past one year being charged nothing and those who have had meters changed in the past nine or 10 years being charged 90 percent of the cost.

The village will not charge a meter replacement fee for anyone who is “experiencing an economic hardship, a disabled veteran or prisoner of war,” according to a memo presented to the village board by Johns last month.