Utility billing for The City of Lake Forest is done on a quarterly basis. For billing purposes, the City is divided into three sections/cycles and each cycle is billed quarterly. Water meters in Lake Forest are equipped with a Radio Read Meter Transceiver Unit (MXU) which permits meter reading via radio signals. As the Public Works vehicle moves through the section of town to be billed, the MXU connected to your meter receives a wake up signal from the vehicle interrogation unit. The MXU obtains the meter's identification number and meter reading, which are transmitted back to the interrogation unit. The meter readings are then used to produce the water bills. Your water bill is based on an actual (not estimated) meter reading each quarter. Actual readings produce an accurate usage history and that helps detect leaks.
The utility bill includes a water charge, water customer charge, city use tax (5% of the water charge the Water Customer Charge), sewer charge, a sewer customer charge which is based on the size of the meter in each home or business, refuse collection fee effective May 1, 2014, and a public safety pension fee effective May 1, 2017.
Tiered Water Rate Structure
In February of 2014 the City Council adopted revisions to the water rate structure with one of the goals to incentivize residential customers to reduce water consumption during demand peak periods. The table below shows the tiered rates. Residents using 60,000 gallons and under will be charged a lower rate per 1,000 gallons and any water usage greater than 60,000 gallons will be charged a higher rate per 1,000 gallons. Note that the higher rate is applied only to usage that exceeds 60,000 gallons.
Refuse Collection Fee
In December of 2013 the City Council adopted changes to various fees and charges which included a Refuse Collection Fee. Residents who have their garbage and recycling collected by the City will be charged a Refuse Collection Fee on the water bill. For more detailed information regarding the Refuse Collection Fee please click on this link to the Sanitation Web Page.
The amount of water used during the winter billing quarter establishes the consumption charged for sewer for the next four bills, i.e. during the winter quarter your usage is 5,000 gallons of water, but in the summer water usage jumps to 48,000 gallons. The sewer charge will be based on a consumption of 5,000 gallons, not 48,000.
You will receive a separate bill from the North Shore Water Reclamation District for sewage treatment and disposal. The City of Lake Forest water bill includes charges for the maintenance of the sewer lines from your home or business to the North Shore Water Reclamation District intercepting sewers.
Public Safety Pension Fee
To increase public awareness of pension obligations, a portion of the funding required for police and fire pension costs is being funded by a Public Safety Pension Fee on the utility bill. The revenue generated by the fee will be added to police and fire pension property tax levy revenues to fund the police and fire pension costs. For a more detailed explanation, please click here.
Utility bill payments may be deposited in The City of Lake Forest postage-free white drop boxes located at the Telegraph Road train station parking lot and on Bank Lane north of Westminster. There is also a drop box located to the left of the main entrance of the Municipal Services building. You may also pay your regular water bill in person at the Municipal Services Building or City Hall during the regular business hours of 8:00am to 4:30pm. We accept check, cash, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express.
Water Bill Changes
To request a change to the mailing address of your utility bill please complete the change of address form. You may download this Change of Address form and either email, fax, or mail the form to the Finance Department. This information is on the form. If you are requesting a name change and are not selling your property you will need to submit supporting documentation when submitting the change request form.
If you are selling your property you will need to have a Home Sanitary Sewer Inspection, request a final water meter reading, and pay your final utility bill prior to the closing date of the property sale. We suggest that you contact our office as soon as you have the closing date scheduled. A Seller /Buyer checklist can be downloaded for your reference. The Home Sanitary Sewer Inspection application and the fee of $150 (cash or check only) will need to be submitted to the Community Development Department in order to schedule the inspection.
If you are purchasing a home in The City of Lake Forest we ask that you contact the Utility Billing Department to set up your new water account. In addition to setting up your new water account you will need to purchase a Transfer Tax Stamp prior to the closing date. A City of Lake Forest Real Estate Transfer Tax Declaration will need to be completed. A Seller/Buyer Checklist can be downloaded for your reference. If you would like more information regarding the Transfer Tax Stamp click on this link to our Real Estate Transfer Tax Web Page
If you rent your property and would like to have a duplicate bill sent to your renter(s) please complete the Duplicate Billing Form. This form will authorize the City to send a duplicate bill to your renter(s). This form can be emailed, faxed or mailed to the Finance Department. The completed form will need to be signed by both the Owner and the renter(s).
Is my utility bill high due to a water leak?
If your utility bill is higher than normal, it may be due to higher water consumption. Information on how to check for a possible leak can be viewed or downloaded here.
How much water do I use?
Many customers ask the question, "How much water does the average person use each day?" The answer to this question, of course, requires a definition of the "average person." In general, per capita water use ranges from about 80 - 100 gallons per day in the eastern United States, which would be an average of 9,000 gallons per billing quarter.