By Howard Packowitz
NORMAL – Residents in Normal will have to pay more for water and for the town to pick-up their garbage beginning April first.
The town council Monday night also changed to monthly billing for water service, rather than every other month.
Backers of the switch, including Mayor Chris Koos, say higher bi-monthly bills put undue strain on residents’ budgeting, particularly people with fixed incomes.
Council members Kathleen Lorenz and Scott Preston were against the move, with Preston noting the $136,000 annual cost for the town to send out the monthly bills.
“There’s a pretty strong customer service argument to be made for saving those end-users, saving people of Normal $136,000 in additional cost,” said Preston.
Lorenz requested a one-year reprieve of a two percent water rate increase because costs are rising for other services. Councilman R.C. McBride voted with the majority.
“If you take a year off and if we don’t do two percent, we stay flat this year, the next year it’s five percent, and if we take that year off too, then the following year, it’s nine or 10 percent, and the shock is going to be that much greater,” said McBride.
“You can’t keep putting it off and you don’t mess around with water,” McBride added.
Sewer rates will more than double over the next five years.
Council members unaminously approved a rate increase for garbage pick-up that will boost monthly bills from $18 to $24 dollars a month, and the cost will rise to $32 a month three years from now.
The town has a budget for the new fiscal year that’s $20 million less than the previous year and eliminates 24 government jobs through attrition instead of layoffs.
The council is, among other things, terminating the lease for the Orlando Avenue police substation and cuts in half the arts grant program named for ex-Mayor Paul Harmon.
Howard Packowitz can be reached at email@example.com