Galesburg Aldermen approved a contract in August for a firm to study the city’s water rates, and Monday night they met with representatives to talk about the study’s scope.
Eric Callocchia of NewGen Strategies and Solutions is the study’s project manager.
He made a virtual presentation for the council and took questions.
NewGen is charged with developing a rate that sustains the water system based on customer payments and fees, but the objective is also to keep rates low overtime.
Callocchia says this involves wisely planning water infrastructure improvements.
He says particularly during COVID-19, municipalities are dealing with an issue Galesburg Aldermen are familiar with, ensuring residents don’t have to go without water.
“How do we maintain the financial solvency of our most important services, water and wastewater particularly, in the face of a significant portion of our customer base that are unable to pay or have this impact they weren’t able to anticipate, even if they were able to pay before,” Callocchia says.
He says there’s been a large movement in recent years to increase the fixed fees in water bills, to ensure some revenue stability.
Callocchia says by his calculations about 19 percent of the Galesburg population is by EPA standards unable to afford water under current rates.
He gave the council a sample of the kind of rate structures that are available.
For example, you could charge a higher rate for water as more is used, or have a seasonal rate structure, where customers are charged more excessive water use in summer months.