Village Statement - November 12, 2019
Village of Skokie Appeal to Federal Ruling in City of Evanston Case
Mediation Scheduled for November 22, 2019
In late September 2019, the Honorable Judge Charles Kocoras ruled that since the Village of Skokie had not actually paid the City of Evanston’s increased water rate, the Village had not incurred damage and, therefore, its Federal action could not proceed for lack of standing. On October 23, 2019, the Village of Skokie filed a notice of appeal to obtain relief from the Judge’s ruling in order to proceed with the case. The Village of Skokie also chose to appeal in order to participate in the United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit’s required mediation program, which was ordered by the Court to occur on November 22, 2019. This aligns with the Village of Skokie’s efforts to negotiate terms for a settlement in this matter rather than litigate a resolution.
Village Statement - October 5, 2019:
The Village of Skokie has purchased water from the City of Evanston for 75 years. Despite Skokie’s efforts for good faith negotiation of a new contract, in summer 2017, Evanston abruptly broke off negotiations and in fall 2017, Evanston filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County to force Skokie to pay significantly higher wholesale water rates. Evanston demanded an immediate water rate increase of nearly 100%. Throughout these good faith negotiations Skokie has worked closely with nationally recognized water rate experts who have unequivocally determined that the rates set by Evanston are unfairly inflated. Skokie has relied on experts who are leaders in establishing national water rate industry codes and standards. By contrast, the City of Evanston has relied solely on in-house staff calculations when setting Skokie’s inflated rates aimed at providing the City with much-needed revenue for a multi-million dollar budget shortfall.
In fall 2018, the Village of Skokie filed a Federal court action asking for equal protection under the Fourth and Fifteenth Amendments of the Constitution of the United States for fair access to Lake Michigan waters to shield Skokie residents and businesses from the City of Evanston’s arbitrary and unjust water rate actions. In late September 2019, the Honorable Judge Charles Kocoras dismissed the Village’s case on the matter of standing, not on the merits of the case. Village Manager John Lockerby said, “We respect the decision of Judge Kocoras, though we note the narrow ruling on procedure and not on the substance of the case. We continue to believe that the least expensive and most expeditious way to get to a fair solution is to settle this dispute through binding arbitration.”
“The Village of Skokie will continue its vigorous efforts to defend Skokie residents and businesses from Evanston’s unreasonable water rates that are more than 300 percent higher than Evanston charges other municipal water customers,” said Mayor George Van Dusen. “Skokie takes pride in being a good neighbor, and we look forward to the day when this lawsuit is over, Skokie’s water rates are set in a fair and equitable manner, and we can resume a collaborative, positive interaction with the City of Evanston. Once again, Skokie urges binding arbitration.”