Skokie is claiming Evanston has set an unconstitutional water rate increase
The village of Skokie, Ill., has announced it is suing its water-providing neighbor, the city of Evanston, Ill., over a perceived unconstitutional increase in water rates. The lawsuit will unfold in federal court, and was filed in U.S. District Court late on Wednesday June 20, 2018.
Skokie is pursuing the lawsuit on the grounds that such an increase in water rates violates due process and equal protection rights guaranteed by the Fifth and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
The lawsuit accuses the city of Evanston of being “calculated” in its efforts to make it more difficult for the village of Skokie to gain access to safe water sourced from Lake Michigan. The suit goes on to outline an alleged 264 to 307% higher wholesale water rates than what Evanston requires of other surrounding towns to pay.
The announcement of the federal lawsuit by Skokie follows a prior lawsuit filed by Evanston in the Cook County Circuit Court this past September. This lawsuit sought to enforce the new increased water rates, claiming the reason Skokie was subjected to such a sharp increase was due to rates that had been “artificially low” for some time.
Skokie has received its water supply from the city of Evanston for over 70 years. According to the lawsuit, the “fundamental question which this court is urged to undertake is whether a municipality that controls Lake Michigan water access as a result of its fortuitous location can charge arbitrary and disparate rates for the sale and delivery of water to similarly situated municipal customers.”
According to Skokie spokeswoman Ann Tennes, the village attempted to resolve the matter with Evanston through an independent mediator, but claims the city “turned us down flat.”
“For 80 years, we had a very successful integrated water system with Evanston,” said Skokie Village Attorney Michael Lorge. “To find suddenly it’s being used to try to leverage a monopolistic water rate was shocking. It is shocking.”