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Dohrwardt says minor rate hike not enough PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by Mark Jaeger   
Wednesday, 02 November 2016 19:20

Village president suggests 12% boost in sewer charge may be needed to cover poerational deficit

Village of Fredonia officials are concerned that local water and sewer utilities are not covering their operating costs.

What they are unsure about is how large of a rate increase should be pursued to address an estimated $83,000 operating shortfall.

Village officials have tentatively been talking about instituting a 4% sewer rate hike, and asked Village Clerk Sandi Tretow to prepare an analysis showing what the out-of-pocket impact of such an increase would be.

After reviewing that analysis, Village President Don Dohrwardt said the village might not be going far enough in limiting the increase to 3% for water and 4% for sewer.

According to the village’s estimates for the rate hike under consideration, sewer and water rates for a household using 12,000 gallons of water per quarter would see their quarterly utility bill rise from $149.52 to $154.98, an increase of $5.46.

For a household using 18,000 gallons of water, the bill would rise from $190.32 to $197.25 per quarter, an increase of $6.93.

“It turns out the impact would be less than I thought it would be, which causes me to question if 4% is appropriate,” Dohrwardt said.

“I imagined bills going up $40 or $50 per quarter. Maybe 8% would be better.”

Public Works Director Roger Strohm noted that a significant boost in sewer charges is all but a certainty in the near future, when improvements to the wastewater treatment plant are mandated by the state Department of Natural Resources at a cost of $3 million or more.

In addition, Strohm said a large increase in water rates might not result in the kind of revenues that are anticipated.

“If you do a big increase in the water rates, people will just cut back in use and you won’t see the revenues you expect,” he said.

Officials continued the discussion at the Oct. 20 Village Board meeting, with Dohrwardt saying a significantly higher sewer rate hike could be justified.

“I am not sure I want to be quoted on this, but I would suggest going for a 12% sewer hike, which would raise average quarterly bills by between $6 and $7.50,” he said.

“We need to do more than just pick (at covering operating costs). We are probably going to get raked over the coals whether we raise rates by 4% or 12%, but we have to have customers pay for what it costs.”

Dohrwardt said it comes down to a question of solvency.

“I hate raising my bills, too, but I want to stop the leak,” he said of the utility deficit.

Trustee Neil Wagner said a major hike in sewer charges would not sit well with constituents, especially those on fixed incomes.

“Social Security is going up .3% and last year it was zero, and you are talking about 12%?” Wagner asked.

Even if a rate increase is approved, it would not be put into place until the first quarter of 2017.

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