Skokie officials call Evanston water rate lawsuit ‘irresponsible’


Daily file photo by Daniel Tian

Evanston is pursuing a lawsuit against Skokie after disagreements about water rates. Skokie responded to an increase in rates in a release Tuesday.

Ally Mauch, Assistant Campus Editor

Skokie officials called Evanston’s lawsuit against the village regarding water rates “hostile” and “irresponsible” in its first public response Tuesday.

The lawsuit, filed in September, alleged that the parties were unable to agree on a water rate for Skokie to pay Evanston. Evanston proposed a new rate of $2.06 per 1,000 gallons, while Skokie proposed lowering the rate to $0.70. Evanston’s proposed rate was approved at City Council and went into effect Oct. 1.

Formerly, Skokie residents paid about $1.08 per 1,000 gallons, which is roughly $2 less than the rate Evanston residents pay.

“The 91 percent water rate hike is a distorted application of a method to setting water rates for privately owned, for-profit water utilities, and demonstrates Evanston’s deceitful approach to Skokie’s attempts to negotiate a fair price for this essential service,” Skokie mayor George Van Dusen said in the release.

Evanston city manager Wally Bobkiewicz told The Daily in an email that the two municipalities had extended their existing contract twice, with the second extension ending Sept. 30. Without a contract, Evanston “needed” to impose the higher rate to continue charging for water, Bobkiewicz said.

“It is unfortunate that the City and Village of Skokie were not able to reach an agreement to renew our water sales contract,” he said.

All other services covered in the contract ended Oct. 1, including water quality testing and pump maintenance services, according to the release.

Skokie health director Catherine Counard said in the release that quality testing is essential for ensuring a safe water system. She said Evanston has left Skokie in a “precarious position.”

The village has arranged replacement water inspection and maintenance services through the Skokie Health and Public Works Departments, according to the release.

Van Dusen said Skokie is “examining all options” to respond to the increased water rate while also searching for alternate water sources. He said Evanston’s actions stem from its multi-million dollar budget deficit.

“Evanston does not have the right to balance its City budget on the backs of Skokie residents,” Van Dusen said. “There are consequences when neighbors take unilateral and oppressive actions designed to penalize its neighbors that have historically cooperated with and supported their community.”

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