Residential FAQ Water-Sewer Tax

Beginning on March 1, 2017, all eligible utility bills (both residential and commercial) will now reflect charges for the water-sewer tax.

Residences and businesses will continue to be billed at the same frequency as their current billing cycle. Metered properties are billed for water and sewer services every other month for the previous two months of water and sewer usage. Current meter rates are $3.81 per 1,000 gallons, and sewer charges are 100 percent of the water bill.

To help ensure a smooth transition to this new charge, the City updated language on the back of all utility bills to help residents understand the water-sewer tax as well as all other charges included in the utility bill.

Sample Metered Bill
Sample Non-Metered Bill

If residents and businesses need assistance with their utility bill, the Chicago Department of Finance Utility Billing Customer Service is prepared to address questions and concerns. For more information 312-744-4426.

Why is the City adding this tax?

  • The Chicago City Council and Mayor Emanuel approved a four-year phase-in of a water and sewer tax to make certain mandated pension payments to the City’s largest pension fund – the Municipal Employees’ Annuity and Benefit Fund.
  • This pension fund supports the retirements of many municipal employees, including our snow plow drivers, our librarians, CPS’ non-teaching staff, such as classroom aides, among other staff.

How often are residents and businesses billed for water and sewer? And what are the current water and sewer rates?

  • Residences and businesses will continue to be billed at the same frequency as their current billing cycle.
  • Metered properties are billed for water and sewer services every other month for the previous two months of water and sewer usage. Current meter rates are $3.81 per 1,000 gallons, and sewer charges are 100 percent of the water bill.
  • Non-metered properties are billed for water and sewer service twice a year at a flat rate. Current non-metered rates are an estimate of water usage based on the lot size, number of fixtures, and other factors. Sewer charges are 100 percent of the water bill.

How will Chicago’s water-sewer rate compare to other large cities water and sewer fees and the surrounding suburbs?

  • Chicago’s water and sewer rates will continue to compare favorably to those of other major cities in the Great Lakes region and nationally.
  • Further, assuming Chicago’s suburban neighbors do not raise water rates over the next five years, Chicago’s water rate in 2021 will still be comparatively lower than 104 of 126 suburban customers’ residential rates. This is based on 2015 suburban rates.

Water rates in surrounding suburbs:

Harvey: $7.60 per 1,000 gallons of water

Maywood: $14.53 per 1,000 gallons of water

Oak Park: $8.37 per 1,000 gallons of water

Berwyn: $7.98 per 1,000 gallons of water

  • The charts below compare the single family residence cost per 7,500 gallons of water in Chicago to the rates charged for the same level of usage in other U.S. cities.

Water Consumption Chart 2

What will metered properties be charged?

  • Properties with a water meter are billed based on the amount of water used in the billing period.  The current water rate for metered accounts is $28.52 per 1,000 cubic feet or approximately $3.81 per 1,000 gallons.
  • Sewer charges are 100 percent of water charges.
  • The water-sewer tax is charged based on consumption.
  • The tax will be phased-in over four years, starting in March 2017 through 2020 and stay at the same tax rate in 2021.
  • Beginning in March 2017, the water-sewer tax will be assessed at a rate of $.295 per 1,000 gallons of water and $.295 per 1,000 gallons of sewer or a total of $.59 per 1,000 gallons of water-sewer use.
Rate per 1,000 gallons  (approximately)  
Year Tax (Water Portion) Tax (Sewer Portion) Total Tax (Water & Sewer Portion) Y-O-Y Tax Rate Increase
2017 $0.295 $0.295 $.59 7.7%
2018 $0.640 $0.640 $1.28 8.4%
2019 $1.005 $1.005 $2.01 8.2%
2020 $1.255 $1.255 $2.51 5.2%
2021 $1.255 $1.255 $2.51 0.0%


What will happen to MeterSave accounts that go above their MeterSave cap?  Will the tax be charged on the total water/sewer use or just what the residence was billed for?

  • For MeterSave residences, the water-sewer tax will only be assessed on the amount of water-sewer for which you are billed, not your total usage.

What will non-metered properties be charged?

  • Per the Municipal Code of Chicago, water usage is assessed based on factors including building size, lot size and other fixtures – such as, sinks, toilets, etc.  The water charge is calculated by assuming usage based on these factors.
  • Sewer charges are 100 percent of water charges.
  • Non-metered properties are charged the water-sewer tax based on the same method used to calculate water and sewer charges.
  • The tax will be phased-in over four years, starting in March 2017 through 2020 and stay at the same tax rate in 2021.
  • Beginning in March 2017, the water-sewer tax will be assessed at a rate $.295 per 1,000 gallons of water and $.295 per 1,000 gallons of sewer or a total of $.59 per 1,000 gallons of water-sewer use.
Rate per 1,000 gallons  (approximately)  
Year Tax (Water Portion) Tax (Sewer Portion) Total Tax (Water & Sewer Portion) Y-O-Y Tax Rate Increase
2017 $0.295 $0.295 $.59 7.7%
2018 $0.640 $0.640 $1.28 8.4%
2019 $1.005 $1.005 $2.01 8.2%
2020 $1.255 $1.255 $2.51 5.2%
2021 $1.255 $1.255 $2.51 0.0%

I’m a non-metered account.  How do I sign up for a meter?

  • Chicago’s MeterSave program installs residential water meters free of charge to promote water conservation and save customers as much as 40 percent on their water and sewer costs.
  • Homeowners participating in MeterSave are eligible for seven-year guarantee that their home water bill will be no higher than it would have been if the meter had not been installed.
  • To learn more about the program, call 3-1-1 or visit

I’m a senior. Will I receive any reduction in the tax?

  • Seniors who receive the senior citizen sewer exemption (seniors who live in their own home and are individually metered) will continue to receive the exemption.
  • This exemption reduces eligible senior’s total water and sewer bill by 50 percent by removing sewer charges. With this exemption, seniors will also see a 50 percent reduction in the tax on water-sewer usage as the tax will only be charged to the water portion of a senior’s bill.

What happens if I do not pay the water-sewer tax?

  • A penalty accrues at a rate of 1.25 percent per month on late balances, including tax charges.
  • A property owner may have their water shut off for failure to pay their unified utility bill after multiple notifications.
  • There are multiple payment plan options for residents to pay their utility bills.

A Letter from Alderwoman Sophia King

Dear Friends,

Since the start of my time serving as Alderman of this community, I have been adamant about making sure that the concerns of the constituents that I serve are adequately represented in any major development in the 4th Ward. This will not change with the request for proposal (RFP) process for the Michael Reese site.

In April of 2016, after two weeks on the job, I was made aware that the Chicago Park District had plans to expand parking at the 31st Street Harbor for private boat owners, with no reasonable plans made to accommodate the general public who patronize the 31st Street Beach. Once I became aware of this, I stopped the process from going forward and I worked with the Chicago Park District to make sure they understood the needs of the residents and the history of the beach. As many in our community may know, the 31st Street Beach has an important place in the history of this city with it being the epicenter of racial tension in the early 20th Century and with the Race Riot of 1919, an incident that was tied to the lack of access and proper accommodations for everyone, regardless of race, to attend the beach. Through this process in April of last year, I was able to substantially expand the parking at the beach for the general public to make sure everyone had access to Chicago’s crown jewel, the lakefront.

Additionally, there have been multiple South Loop developments that were started during the tenure of my predecessor, Alderman William D. Burns, which I also put on hold until I met with the developers to express the concerns of my constituents. In each case, I made sure that they were responsive to residents’ concerns regarding plans that would adversely impact existing quality of life, increased density near the developments, and the desired inclusion of affordable housing units. Also, I pressed developers to include in their projects tangible, meaningful opportunities for Minority Owned Business Enterprises (MBEs) and Women Owned Enterprises (WBEs).

As Alderman, through community meetings I have hosted one-on-one conversations with residents, I have heard the concerns of the community regarding the Michael Reese site. I am also aware of the views expressed by the participants in 2012-2013 community meetings that were summarized in the Skidmore, Owings & Merrill report. From this valuable community input, it is clear that residents want a use for the Michael Reese site that compliments the rich and storied history of this community and provides additional housing, retail and other first-class amenities that will help this community become more sustainable and grow.

Although my vision for the site has not been crystallized, as I eagerly await input from the community as well from the various bids from developers not yet submitted, I am clear that I am not in favor of a casino. Our community members have clearly voiced their opinion that they are not in favor of that potential use, and research and past history suggests that casinos generally have a deleterious impact on surrounding communities. In my opinion, there are better ways to create jobs and enhance the vibrancy of the community.

Finally, it is my intention to make the RFP process clear and transparent. While it is good to see that the process is moving forward towards creating a clear future for the site, I want to make sure that the community continues to have substantive input on what proposal is selected and in every crucial aspect of the development. In short, transparency and community dialogue must be part of this process or I will oppose any selection made for this site.

Sophia D. King
Alderman, 4th Ward

Michael Reese site


Alderman King’s Appearance on Chicago Tonight – December 29, 2016

For nearly a decade, the former Michael Reese Hospital site in the Bronzeville neighborhood has sat empty and unused.

In 2008, the city of Chicago purchased the nearly 50-acre property and tore down most of the buildings on it in anticipation of making it the 2016 Olympic Village. Those hopes, of course, were dashed in 2009 when Chicago wasn’t selected to host the 2016 Games.

Since then, the city has had little success in finding a use for that property although some pushed for George Lucas’ narrative museum to be located there. Now the city has issued a request for proposals to sell and develop the site. What would be a good fit for that prime property and the surrounding neighborhood?

Here to share their thoughts are Paula Robinson, president of the Bronzeville Community Development Partnership whose stated mission is to develop the historic Bronzeville neighborhood into a sustainable international heritage tourism destination; and Ald. Sophia King of the 4th Ward, which encompasses the old Michael Reese Hospital site.

City of Chicago Announces Request for Proposals Process for Michael Reese Site

“I am happy we are beginning the process to develop the Michael Reese site and I look forward to engaging the community as it moves forward,” Alderman Sophia King (4th) said. “This site has incredible potential to create new jobs and drive economic growth in the fourth ward and community input is an important part of that vision.”

The Chicago Department of Planning and Development (DPD) requests the submission of proposals from qualified master developer teams to purchase and redevelop the property commonly referred to as the Michael Reese Site.

A copy of the RFP may be downloaded from the City of Chicago website.

The approximately 48.6 acre Michael Reese Site is located near Chicago’s lakefront, directly south of the Stevenson Expressway (I-55) and Lake Shore Drive (U.S. Route 41) interchange.


Michael Reese Executive Summary

Third and Fourth Ward Aldermen Partner to Launch Safe Summer Initiative: “Building Community Block by Block”

Chicago, IL (July 8, 2016) – Chicago Alderman Pat Dowell (D, 3rd Ward) and Alderman Sophia King (D, 4th Ward) have launched “Building Community Block by Block,” an initiative that will expand Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) Safe Passage program into the summer. Building Community Block by Block is designed to engage youth in the community through advocacy, entrepreneurship and summer jobs to help create safety in both wards.

From July 5th to August 12th, Safe Passage workers will provide block by block coverage while City of Chicago Police Department, University of Chicago Police Department and Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) will provide wrap-around coverage to keep the community safe at pre-determined hot spots in both wards. Bright Star Community Outreach and American Enterprises 3 are the two community organizations that have been selected by CPS Safe Passage to provide workers who will help to ensure the safety of young people moving throughout the community. The workers will be identified by wearing lime green vests bearing the logo “Building Community Block by Block.” In addition, the Love, Unity & Values (LUV) Institute and American Enterprises 3 will provide youth programming at Ellis, Kennicott, Mandrake, Taylor, Fuller and Anderson Chicago Park District parks while initiating youth engagement in the community. Sixty youth will work to make the community safer through advocacy, peace circles, block parties, vocational training, entrepreneurship and more.

In order to mitigate the anticipated summer violence, Alderman King is encouraging all stakeholders in the community to come together. “Gun violence is not an issue that happens in isolation; therefore, we need more than a police solution. We need a comprehensive approach that includes jobs, youth engagement and the entire community working together,” said King.

Over the past few months, Alderman Dowell and Alderman King have hosted planning meetings that have included representatives from Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Park District, University of Chicago Police Department, University of Chicago Urban Labs, City of Chicago Police Department 2nd District, Metra, Chicago Housing Authority, Bright Star Community Outreach, The Community Builders (TCB), LUV Institute, American Enterprises 3 and community members to plan ways to make both wards safer for the entire community. In addition, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and City Treasurer Kurt Summers have lent their support to ensure the success of the safe summer initiative.

According to Alderman Dowell, “This important project expands on the initiatives currently in place for 3rd Ward residents to provide jobs, training and summer programming; and I’m happy to partner with the 4th Ward to ensure that all Bronzeville residents have the opportunity to have a productive and safe summer.”

To ensure more public safety in both wards, the Aldermen are asking community members to (1) “Get Organized” to keep community safety a top priority, (2) “Plug-In” to your community network by building a relationship with your neighbors, (3) “Step Out & Speak Up” by reporting suspicious activity to the authorities, and (4) “Connect Publically” by participating in or hosting a block party.

Parents are encouraged to check out the 3rd and 4th Ward Chicago Park District parks to find out about events and activities for the entire family. Community members are also invited to attend local Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) meetings to stay connected to what is happening in the community. For more information, visit and

To kick-off the Building Community Block by Block initiative, a press launch will be held for media and the public. Following are the details:

Date: Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Time: 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Location: Mandrake Park, 901 E. Pershing Road, Chicago, IL 60653

“The University of Chicago Police Department is pleased to work with the aldermen and local community members to support the Building Community Block by Block initiative,” said UCPD Chief of Police Fountain L. Walker. “It is a comprehensive approach to ensuring the safety of students participating in summer programs throughout the community, and it is one more way we are engaging with the public to promote public safety.”

The University of Chicago Urban Labs will measure the impact of the safe summer initiative. The ultimate goal of the safe summer initiative is to reduce violence in the 3rd and 4th Wards and to create a model that can be expanded into other aldermanic wards.