Time for Skokie to Pay Its Fair Share for Water

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Message from the Mayor

Time for Skokie to Pay Its Fair Share for Water

Today, a front page article ran in the Chicago Tribune titled, "Skokie Sues Evanston, Claims City Trying to Gouge It by Hiking Cost of Lake Michigan Water." In a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday, Skokie asserts that Evanston’s “calculated, oppressive and punitive” actions [related to an increase in water rates] is an attempt to violate their constitutional rights to water.

In light of this lawsuit by Skokie and the respect I have for our Skokie neighbors, I wanted to assure you that Evanston continues to provide safe, fresh drinking water to Skokie today just as we have for more than 70 years. However, the time has come for Skokie to pay its fair share.

The fact is, over the last 70 years, Skokie’s water rate has not fully accounted for the significant infrastructure, maintenance and delivery costs required to provide the village with Evanston drinking water. Instead, Evanston taxpayers have borne that cost, a huge subsidy that is neither fair nor sustainable.

Skokie's most recent 20-year contract with Evanston expired on December 31, 2016. In the months and years leading up to that date, Evanston negotiated in good faith with Skokie to establish a new water rate that is fair to taxpayers of both of our communities. We are pricing our water using a standard methodology approved by the American Water Works Association, the same methodology we’ve adopted for other communities that purchase water from Evanston.

Naturally, Skokie would like their water rate to remain unchanged. But the fact is, Evanston families—including many who are struggling financially—have been subsidizing the delivery of water to Skokie for decades, and it's time for that to end. Evanston water rates remain among the most affordable in the Chicagoland area. Even with an increase over the current rate, Skokie residents will be well served. The recent Tribune analysis illustrates our point. We realize that there’s a market for water, and that Skokie has other options, including Chicago. But one option they no longer have is water subsidized by Evanston taxpayers.

In closing, we will not use divisive and dramatic language in this dispute, take other actions intended to intimidate or bully our neighbor, or litigate this dispute in the press. Instead, the City Council and I will insist that our City be fairly compensated for water, just as other customers are doing.

Once the courts have weighed in, I hope that Skokie will remain a valued customer of Evanston. In the meantime, we will continue to provide fresh, clean water to Skokie residents.

I encourage you to read this fact sheet for more information about Skokie water rates. Please share it with your networks.


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Stephen Hagerty
Mayor, City of Evanston

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