Goreville postpones sewer rate increases another month
The Goreville village board met for a regularly scheduled meeting Monday night in which it was decided that sewer rate increases would be put off for one more month to allow the board to run proposed rates with actual customer data.
Goreville falls nearly fifty percent below the state average on sewer rates with customers paying on average $19.75 for sewer compared to $35 to $40 elsewhere.
The board said it believed the last rate increase for sewer was more than 24 years ago and it could no longer support operating the service at a loss. Last year the village paid out more than $51,600 from its general funds to cover the cost of providing sewer to the residents of Goreville at its current rates. The proposed increase would adjust the base fee and minimum usage from $8.50 for 1,000 gallons to $15 for 1,500 gallons and increase the rate on additional use from $3.75 per 1,000 gallons to approximately $5.42 per 1,000 gallons.
“Our base rate for water includes a 1,500 gallon minimum, so it makes sense to adjust our sewer to the same minimum,” trustee Jeff Jones said at the meeting. Jones prepared a spreadsheet in which actual customer data for a complete billing cycle would be entered to allow the board to review actual customer costs with the new rates. “We can take a look at what residents will actually pay and decide if the increase is reasonable or not.”
The rate increase to $15 per 1,500 gallons would only generate an estimated excess of $2,000 per year above cost, Jones said. The village has hesitated on rate increases in the past, but said it can wait no longer. The increase in the rate is to put an end to the village having to borrow from its general fund each month to pay its cost of providing sewer, not to generate a profit, the board agreed. A long-term plan to overhaul the village’s aging sewer and water system is on the horizon with a pre-proposed plan of using a mix of grants and bonds to fund a complete overhaul of the entire infrastructure.
Electricity aggregation proposed
With rate increases set for sewer, electricity could see a decrease in costs due to an electricity aggregation proposal brought before the board by energy consultants Select Energy Partners based out of Chicago and represented locally in Southern Illinois by energy consultant Nick Hill.
Hill said Goreville residents have the opportunity to reduce their overall energy costs between $10 and $15 each month by joining an electricity aggregation service in which multiple communities are grouped together and contract with the best offer. The board unanimously approved a measure that allows Select Energy Partners to negotiate energy contracts on its behalf for municipal electrical costs. The board also approved a measure that will put before the voters of Goreville the same choice of allowing Select Energy Partners to negotiate the best contract on their behalf with the option to opt out at any time.
“Seven hundred municipalities in Illinois have put aggregation programs in place and all have saved money,” Hill said. “Residents can already shop around for their own contract right now, but it is unlikely the savings would be as great on their own.”
Hill said the city of Harrisburg just signed an agreement with Select Energy this past Thursday and should its residents pass the referendum on the ballot, it would be one of several in the next grouping Goreville has the opportunity to be a part of. Hill listed Carbondale, Marion, West Frankfort, Sparta, Chester and a few other Southern Illinois communities that passed the ballot initiative at the same time to form a “powerful” negotiation group. Goreville would have a year contract with the upcoming group before they could join the “larger” group as its contract expires.
As Goreville moves closer to the time of voting on the referendum, Select Energy’s Hill said they would do their part in helping to educate community members on what exactly they would be voting for.
Village Clean Up
The board also discussed its upcoming Village Clean Up weekend set for September 6 through 8 with three, 30-yard dumpsters to be placed across the street from the fire department.