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Great Lakes Article:

Frankfort approves three-step water rate increase
Will fund new iron filtration system
By Stephen Stanis
The Daily Southtown

Frankfort water rates will increase by 16.3 percent over the next two years to pay for installing iron-removal systems on four of the village's 10 wells.

The village board approved the three-step increase Monday. A 2 percent increase, from $4.83 to $4.93 per 1,000 gallons used, takes effect Sept. 1. Water rates will increase 6 percent on May 1, 2004, and 8.3 percent on May 1, 2005.

The increases to pay for the filtration system are in addition to annual inflation adjustments.

Trustee Jake Parrillo voted "no" to the increase, and Trustee Doug Walker was absent.

"Something needs to be done with our water. I certainly recognize that," Parrillo said. "I can't vote for a tax increase when the village is in sound fiscal shape. We have the money to fund this project now without a tax increase - let alone raising everyone's water bill 16 percent."

Village administrator Jerry Ducay said the increase will offset the cost of the filtration system and generate revenue for future upgrades to the village's other wells. The filtration system for each well costs between $400,000 and $600,000, he said.

The system will remove 94 percent of the iron coming out of the village's four highest volume wells, Ducay said.

Two of the wells are in the Frankfort Square area, one in the Tanglewood area and one on U.S. 30 just west of Pfeiffer Road.

Trustee Todd Morgan said although there is a rate increase, residents also will have savings because they will not have to replace clothing, water fixtures, water heaters and water softeners damaged by the high iron content of Frankfort's water.

"There will be some real savings there. You won't have stained clothing or have to replace fixtures or water heaters," Morgan said.

Trustee Dick Trevarthan said the village hoped to start construction of the system on the four wells sometime in the spring. The earliest the filters would be completed is the fall of 2004.

The improvements to the wells are a result of Frankfort choosing not to bring in Lake Michigan water.

Voters rejected a switch to lake water by a 2-to-1 ratio in a March 2000 advisory referendum. Many objected to the high cost of lake water, predicted then to be more than $5 per 1,000 gallons.

Frankfort provides water and sewer services for about 25,000 customers within and outside the village.

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