A screenshot of a YouTube video by Oak Park resident John Sheehan's "Better with a Drone" channel. The drone hovers the iconic water tower in Forest Park. | Image provided by John Sheehan

Forest Park’s village council voted unanimously April 11 to approve a 5% water rate hike that will take effect on June 1. 

The Village of Forest Park buys its water from the City of Chicago, and the increase is in direct response to Chicago increasing its water rate. Under an agreement in effect since 2016, the rate the village pays Chicago is adjusted based on the annual changes in the Consumer Price Index, but the increase can’t be higher than 5%. Since the CPI rose by more than 5% this year, this limit will save the village some money. 

According to the water rate schedule included in the ordinance, the rate for commercial and industrial buildings will go up from $13.72 per 100 cubic feet to $14.41 per 100 cubic feet. The rate for residential homes and condos will go up from $7.96 per 100 cubic feet to $8.36 cubic feet, while the rate for apartment buildings will go up from $10.01 per 100 cubic feet to $10.51 per 100 cubic feet. The discounted residential rate for senior citizen customers will go up from $6.16 per 100 cubic feet to $6.76 per 100 cubic feet. 

For the large meter commercial and industrial buildings, the rate will go up from $137.24 per 1,000 cubic feet to $144.10 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Since 2018, the village pegged the water rates charged to its customers to the changes in Chicago water rates. Between 2015 and 2018, Forest Park kept the rates the same, absorbing the increases out of its pocket, until it determined that such an approach was unsustainable amid growing budget deficits and rising costs. 

The previous 2021 increase, which was approved on July 12, 2021, raised the fees by 1.1%. That year also saw the village raise the late fee from 1.5% a month to 10% from the date of payment – which, at the time, was set up to encourage customers to pay on time and reduce staff time that went into sending and delivering water shut-off notices. The April 11 ordinance doesn’t make any changes to the penalties.

The village council approved the new rates unanimously and without discussion.