Ruling in Harvey water suit less than Homewood officials hoped for

The Village of Homewood and other south suburban municipalities did not receive the court ruling they hoped for in a continuing legal battle with the City of Harvey, according to village officials.

Homewood and other suburbs that buy water from Harvey have joined the City of Chicago in requesting a third party be appointed to handle Harvey's water revenues.

Chicago claims Harvey owes $20 million in water fees and has misused water revenue. Harvey claims the problem was caused by Chicago's onerous rate hikes in recent years, according to a Chicago Tribune report.

At the Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday, Sept. 23, Homewood Mayor Richard Hofeld asked Village Attorney Christopher Cummings for an update on the case. “We continue to pay Harvey because that's what our contract requires us to do,” Cummings said. “We're hoping to pay that to a third party so we know the money is allocated properly.”

The Tribune reported that a Cook County judge denied a second request Friday from Chicago and the suburbs to have the court take over control of Harvey's water revenues. While the two sides in the dispute wrangle over documentation issues, village officials said local residents need not fear their water source will dry up.

“Chicago has repeatedly said there is an obligation; they're not going to cut off the water,” Cummings said.

In other business, trustees welcomed their newest colleague. Former Village Clerk Karen Washington was sworn in as a trustee after the board unanimously approved her appointment to fill the position left vacant by former trustee Tom Kataras' retirement at the Sept. 9 meeting.

The board also approved a contract with Kluber Architects & Engineers to continue with phase two of an extensive renovation of Village Hall.

The $53,750 contract will cover development of a detailed design and preparation of construction and bid documents.

Village Manager Jim Marino and Christopher J. Hansen, vice president of Kluber, gave the board a presentation on the renovation plans, which will focus on increasing building security and improve workflow efficiency and customer comfort and convenience, mainly on the second floor. The plan also calls for modest improvements to the board room, making it more useful as a public meeting room for committees and commissions in addition to its role as board room and court room.

The board also

  • Approved an ordinance reducing the village amusement tax from 5 percent to 2 percent.
  • Approved a special use permit to allow Marguerite Wright, proprietor of Sacred Therapy spa, to operate a private practice massage therapy business in the building at 1818 Ridge Road.
  • Approved an ordinance amending the village zoning ordinance regarding regulations for learning centers, financial institutions, exterior lighting and signs.
  • Approved a resolution to include compensation directed into a retirement health savings plan as Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund earnings.
  • Approved a resolution terminating participation in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund for the village clerk position.
  • Approved the claims list totalling $1,207,792. Mayor Richard Hofeld noted that more than 80 percent of the total was from five expenses: A refund to Canadian National Railway Company for a building deposit, $149,000; water services fee to the City of Harvey, $402,000; a fee to Thorn Creek Basin Sanitary District, $72,000; and installation of LED street lights, $95,000.
  • Reappointed Kelly Feminella, Thomas Hamilton and Kathi Knight to the Community Relations Commission for terms ending Aug. 31, 2017.
  • Reappointed Marjory Dalton and Alene Rutzky to the Senior Advisory Committee for terms ending Sept. 23, 2017.

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