A bucolic suburb about an hour west of Chicago, Woodridge, Illinois is a close-knit community near fantastic forest preserves, botanic gardens, and research institutions. This bustling burg is home to thriving businesses, from food manufacturers to technology firms—as well as 30,000 active and engaged residents. In fact, the Village of Woodridge was recently recognized by Money magazine as one of the nation’s Best 100 Places to Live.
Woodridge was steered for more than 30 years by Mayor William Murphy, also a past President of the Illinois Municipal League and the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference. Mayor Murphy was well-known (and beloved) for his commitment to good government and fiscal discipline. And under his watchful eye, the Village enjoyed stable municipal revenues, provided ample services to residents and businesses while keeping residents’ taxes low, and achieved superior credit ratings from both Fitch and Moody’s.
But while the community looks as pleasant as they come, Woodridge struggled with some issues that made planning a pain—and major utility providers were the culprits.
In 2004, the Village of Woodridge began experiencing issues with its major utility providers. Mayor Murphy and his team suspected that these issues weren’t merely a blip, but rather emblematic of a much more systemic problem. They believed there was a good chance that the Village was getting short-changed on fees due—and that meant less revenues for programs and services.
Unfortunately, these kinds of concerns about utilities aren’t unheard of; utility providers in the area are notorious for underreporting fees owed to municipalities and often obfuscate the numbers and even stonewall attempts to uncover the real story. However, a comprehensive revenue review conducted by seasoned analysts can often reveal the truth.
Annual Natural-Gas Underpayment
In Missed Cable Fees
Annual Increase in Electric Franchise Fees
Woodridge turned to Azavar. With a sterling reputation for professional, technology-driven revenue reviews, Azavar is experienced with working with governments experiencing less-than-optimal relationships with local utilities, including well-connected power companies and cable providers.
Our team used Azavar's proprietary software tools to pore over utility records to identify any and all errors. And what we found was stunning. Exelon/Commonwealth Edison, the electrical provider, had not been paying accurate or equitable franchise fees for decades—and either the Village hadn't noticed or the utility hadn’t corrected the issues. Some of these errors totaled more than $50,000 annually, going back years.
And Exelon/ComEd wasn’t the only culprit; the natural-gas and cable utilities were out of compliance as well. Through a combination of cutting-edge geographic information systems tools and our own data-mining technology, we conducted a comprehensive address analysis that returned nearly $40,000 in revenue from missed cable fees. Plus, we reviewed natural-gas receipts and secured additional revenue to the tune of $275,000 annually.
Smaller municipalities simply do not have the time, nor the staff resources required to chase down lost revenue after a comprehensive review. Our team of experts collected those past-due monies and helped the Village correct these errors going forth. This way, Village leaders and employees can focus on delivering the high level of services Woodridge residents have come to expect.
Through its partnership with Azavar, Woodridge is now enjoying additional revenues on a consistent basis. And all with very little risk or work on the part of the Village. Our team took care of all the analysis, recovery, and corrections on behalf of the municipality. Plus, our contingency-only fee model meant that Woodridge wasn’t on the hook for revenue-review fees. We only recovered after Woodridge received its missing taxes.
Today, Woodridge remains a lovely place to live, with a fiscal situation shored up by a more accurate and equitable revenue foundation. By finding additional revenues from franchise fees, Woodridge is able to keep taxes lower on residents than surrounding communities—always a plus for attracting residents.
If your community suspects something amiss with utility remittances, Azavar’s team of professionals can uncover any issues. Let’s get started today on a comprehensive slate of revenue reviews for your local government. Whether you’re missing out on millions or just lack clarity on your situation, Azavar can identify and rectify any challenges.
Our relationship with Azavar has resulted in benefits beyond additional revenue. Now, we also enjoy increased compliance and cooperation from our utility providers. Because Azavar has such tight relationships with utility providers, now we enjoy increased compliance, better cooperation, and speedier support during service interruptions and improvement projects.