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Mayor: Suburbs Will Share Water-Bill Pain With Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) –- It's not just Chicagoans who would get socked with larger water bills, under Mayor Emanuel's proposed city budget.

Residents of the more than 100 suburbs that purchase their water from Chicago would also see their bills double over the next four years.

Emanuel emphasized that point Friday as he tried to placate city residents and stressed the need to revamp Chicago's water-delivery system.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's Mike Krauser Reports


Some Chicago water mains are 125 years old.

"It's an investment that's long overdue in Chicago's future, and its time we do it," the mayor said at a news conference.

The $2.8 billion project would replace 1,000 miles of water and sewer mains and create 1,800 jobs for a year.

"About 47 percent of that work, the cost of that work, will be borne by suburbanites," Emanuel said.

Residents in the suburbs that purchase Chicago water were not pleased at the prospect of paying more. One woman cited the cases of four suburbs that haven't paid their past water bills to Chicago.

Emanuel says three of those four suburbs have agreed to payment plans. He also said all those non-profits that used to get free or heavily discounted water will have to pay full freight.

The mayor also stuck to his guns Friday on another controversial fee hike announced in his budget address: for vehicle stickers on larger vehicles.

What he didn't say was that he was changing the weight definition for standard-size cars -– from 4,000 to 4,500 pounds.

"If you look at the data which is pretty compelling, the weight class should be at 4,000, not 4,500 (pounds)," Emanuel said.

The change would mean increases in sticker fees for nearly 200,000 vehicles.

Asked if he realized that would occur, Emanuel answered, "I also know this detail: 75 percent of all cars will not see an increase."

The added revenue would be used to pay for filling more potholes.

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