Water-related expenditures in Flossmoor were at the forefront of multiple actions by the village board Monday, and play a notable role in the new municipal budget.
The budget, approved unanimously by trustees, includes spending $1.2 million for the replacement of residential water meters in the village. That expense is seen as essential if Flossmoor is to accurately measure how much water is used by residents.
In a separate action April 17, the board approved a water and sewer rate hike of 36 cents per thousand gallons of water used. The new rate is expected to increase typical water bills in Flossmoor by approximately $9.72 per quarter.
And, in a third board vote, trustees gave the green light to a plan for repairing Flossmoor’s leaky underground reservoir just north of Vollmer Road, which is daily losing about 25,000 gallons of water. The board approved a $137,000 contract with a Joliet firm that will repair cracks in the 3 million gallon reservoir. The complete project, with engineering, is expected to cost $181,807.
Flossmoor’s new fiscal year starts May 1. The overall village budget includes a number of funds and also covers the Flossmoor Public Library. Total expenditures are approximately $24.7 million and revenues are $21.6 million.
In the new budget, the all-important General Fund – which pays for salaries and most day-to-day expenses – has approximately $11.4 million in expenses and $9.6 million in revenues.
Village Manager Bridget Wachtel, in a memo to the board, said the General Fund in the new budget has an operating deficit of about $560,000. The village has planned this deficit to be covered by the fund balance, she said.
General Fund deficits are not sustainable in the long term and a realignment of revenues and expenditures must occur, Wachtel said. Board members are embarking on a strategic planning initiative this year that is likely to look at other revenue sources such as adding an extra half-cent in sales tax – which would require approval by voters in a referendum – or higher vehicle sticker costs.
Wachtel said the $1.2 million for the water meter replacement project is coming from the General Fund because of the health of the Water and Sewer Fund, which is generally the source of improvements to Flossmoor’s water system. In recent years, the Water and Sewer Fund has been strained by rate increases from Chicago and the expenses of maintaining an aging system.
Following the budget approval, Mayor Paul Braun directed Wachtel and other staff members to look for ways that money for the water main program can be shifted back into the General Fund.
Flossmoor is transforming its meters from traditional metal units with moving parts to plastic digital meters that are expected to be much more accurate in measuring how much water is being used. Village Finance Director Scott Bordui said Flossmoor is currently only billing residential customers for about 66 percent of Lake Michigan water that the village purchases.
The 36-cent water rate hike was approved after Bordui explained that it is needed to cover the water and sewer system’s operating budget, cover the costs of a possible rate increase from Harvey and generate sufficient revenue to maintain a reserve level that meets the village’s policy for the Water and Sewer Fund.
The Vollmer Reservoir, built in the 1960s to provide a three-day supply of water if the lake water system north of Flossmoor goes down, will be drained while repairs are taking place. Public Works Director John Brunke said he expects that will take about four weeks.