Round Lake Heights referendum: $2.7 million to fund water system improvements

Round Lake Heights referendum: $2.7 million to fund water system improvements

Round Lake Heights officials are seeking voter approval for water-system improvements that would ensure the village has adequate water flow even during large firefighting efforts or when the main service line fails.

A $2.7 million proposal that would give the village of Round Lake Heights greater control over its water system will go before voters this November.

If voters approve the referendum, the village would begin the engineering and easement acquisition necessary to build a new water tower and water main, and begin construction as soon as fall 2019 or early 2020, Village President Terrance Lumpkins said in an interview Friday.

That water main will hook into the Lake County Joint Action Water Agency system at Cedar Lake Road, meaning the village would no longer have to negotiate with the village of Round Lake Beach to buy water, Lumpkins said.

The two villages have worked well together and managed to keep water rates competitive with area communities, but administrations change, Lumpkins said, pointing to a study the village had completed that looks at the water and sewer rates in nearby communities.

He wants Round Lake Heights to have more control over its water system’s future, building on a 20-year-old decision to purchase its existing water system.

If the referendum is approved, the goal is to keep water rates flat, Lumpkins said.

The village of Round Lake Heights charges $7.75 for every 1,000 gallons of water, plus $3.67 per 1,000 gallons for sewer and $11.50 in monthly fees, according to the study. The village also has a garbage fee on its water bills.

The village of Round Lake Beach, where Round Lake Heights currently buys its water, charges its own residents $6.94 for every 1,000 gallons of water plus $3.67 per 1,000 gallons for sewer and $21 in monthly fees, according to the study.

The new system will also ensure the village has adequate water flow even when the main service line fails, according to village documents. The existing backup well system can meet everyday needs but struggles when demand is high, such as during a large building fire.

Lumpkins said he’ll understand if voters reject the referendum proposal. He added that he knows it’s a hard ask to raise property taxes, but he said he thinks the 20-year bond proposal is the most efficient way to pursue this effort.

The owner of a $100,000 home with a homestead exemption will see their property taxes rise $175 a year to fund debt payments if the referendum is approved.

Village officials also plan to eliminate special service assessments charged to residents of the Pasquinelli and Neumann subdivisions, according to village documents.

If the referendum fails, Lumpkins said village officials will look into other options, including pursuing the project piecemeal.

The village is encouraging residents with questions to bring them to Village Board meetings, which are held at 7 p.m. on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at the Round Lake Heights Village Hall, 619 W. Pontiac Court.

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