Village Council

Water rate hike approved

At the March 17 Village Council meeting, Council approved in a 4–0 vote a 15 percent hike in local water rates, the largest single year increase in years. Rates jumped from $4.55 to $5.25 per 1,000 gallons, which will cost the average user (6,000 gallons/year) about $50.40 more per year.

Council member Karen Wintrow said the measure was needed to cover a projected deficit in the water fund and to raise money for capital projects in the coming years, likely to include water sourcing ($1.5 million) and distribution upgrades ($1 million).

“This helps us get into the black,” Wintrow said.

The new water rates take effect April 1. The action was the third and final vote on the matter.

In other Village Council business:
• The Village hired eGov Strategies to redesign its website (www.yso.com) at a cost of $16,165 (which includes one year of maintenance and hosting), which Council approved unanimously in a resolution. The new site will be more user-friendly and easier for Village staff to update, which will save the Village ongoing Web management fees and improve villagewide communications, according to Housh. The new site will be complete in four months and may, at a later point, allow villagers to pay their utility bills online, Housh added.

• Energy Board Chair Jerry Papania reported that the village used 2.9 percent less energy in 2013 than 2012 due to a combination of energy-efficiency measures and cooler temperatures. He praised the Village for its commitment to sourcing its electricity from renewables. The portion the Village portfolio generated from renewable sources, which was 28 percent last year, will rise to 78 percent by the end of 2015, Papania said.

• Council members agreed to begin a community wide discussion about water sourcing by assembling a citizen committee that includes local water experts and organizing a public forum. Wintrow had urged Council to wait until a new manager is hired to explore the topic, but other Council members and Interim Manager Kent Bristol suggested starting the conversation with the community earlier.

“I don’t know how much numbers, and facts and figures will matter. I think it’s more of a political decision and values decision,” Bristol said. Springfield has yet to provide detailed cost estimates, Bristol added.

• Starting this week, Melissa Van­zant, the finance director, will temporarily replace Interim Manager Kent Bristol while he is away on an indefinite medical leave.

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