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Geneva aldermen ponder sewer credits

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012 5:30 a.m. CST

GENEVA –  Aldermen Monday pondered the value of giving sanitary sewer credits to Geneva’s residential and industrial users who can show a portion of the water they use is not discharged into the sewer system.

Ultimately, they decided to have the effect of the credits included in the next budget process.

Superintendent of Water and Wastewater Bob Van Gyseghem made a presentation at the City Council meeting about how the city’s revenue would be affected if residential customers had caps on their summer sewer usage June through September.

Van Gyseghem separated the city’s 593 customers with automatic irrigation systems from the 6,700 customers without it, for the sake of comparison.

Comparing the summer of 2011, which was wet, a 130 percent sewer use cap would save an automatic irrigation customer $130 and cost the city more than $77,000. A 150 percent cap would save the customer $110 and cost the city more than $65,000.

If a similar program existed for the hot, dry summer of 2012, a 130 percent cap would save an automatic irrigation customer $270 and cost the city more than $160,000; a 150 percent cap would save the customer $250 and cost the city more than $148,000.

For the rest of water consumers, savings would be from $25 to $18 for either year, but would cost the city from $24,000 to $112,800, depending on which cap was used in which year, Van Gyseghem said.

The city’s overall sewer service budget is $2.5 million. The problem is if credits or discounts are given, lost revenue must be made up, possibly in higher costs for other users, officials said.

In terms of the industrial users, the city had allowed credit for water that does not go into the sanitary sewer, but temporarily suspended those credits in October 2010 because of the revenue loss, City Administrator Mary McKittrick said.

“We are showing a loss in the water fund, to date, of $5 million,” McKittrick said. “Precarious’ is a word I would use … We are not in any position to be giving credits without some plan in place for the future. The problem is lack of sales. We are not selling as much as we have in the past … primarily because of the weather.”

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