Residents to help pay for water, sewer work

Public information meeting in March will explain details of project to about 60 property owners
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press Staff

About 60 households in the Village of Belgium will be affected by a sewer and water project that could start this spring.

A public information meeting on the work is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, March 1, at Christian Life Church, 309 Lakeview Dr., Belgium.

The project includes replacing the sanitary sewer mains and laterals on North, Elm and Commerce streets, Elevator Lane, the 600 block of Park Street and about a 400-foot section on Liberty Street.

Public Works Director Dan Birenbaum said the project is on the list from an inflow and infiltration study from about 20 years ago. Some high-need areas have already been updated, such as Main and Maple streets and South Avenue.

“We’re just chipping away at our infrastructure, trying to get it updated and replaced,” Birenbaum said.

The work is expected to cost nearly $2 million.

How much property owners will be charged for the work has yet to be determined, but estimates range from $2,000 to $5,000. They will have three options to pay: through a special assessment, a lump sum or having it put on tax bills that are due the end of January.

“For the most part, the special assessments that we are going to be having for this type of project are costs that are related to the private laterals, so it’s not as subject to the bidding numbers as it would be, for instance, if we were assessing for curb and gutter or some other type of improvement,” Village Engineer Matt Greely of McMahon told the Public Utilities Committee last month.

The village, he said, is only required to hold a public hearing on the project. The public information meeting is a courtesy.

“In reality, the village is going above and beyond the requirements for public notification,” Greely said.

Beyond that, he said, it would be wise to meet with individual property owners to talk about their specific situations and provide cost estimates.

The village’s main sewer line has laterals that go to property lines. Those are owned and operated by the village, Greely said.

Homeowners take ownership of the laterals from the right of way to their houses.

Begium is offering the homeowners the opportunity to use the village’s contractor to replace their private sewer laterals, Greely said.

Village Clerk Julie Lesar said two property owners have already contacted the village with questions. Birenbaum said people were wondering what surveyors in the area were doing.

An engineer will be at the public information meeting to answer questions.

“It’s good to be able to describe the project, even more than what is being planned for assessments,” Greely said. “(Property owners) know the village is planning this work. It’s going to be disruptive.”

Included in the about 60 affected residences are a couple of businesses and the fire department.

Property owners will be getting letters inviting them to the public information meeting. Christian Life Church was chosen for the meeting instead of Village Hall to allow for social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s good to go through those steps and put that process out there as to how it’s going to happen so that everybody is able to get up to speed about what the project is and how the cost of it needs to get paid,” Greely said.

The project is expected to be bid out in a couple of months. Greely suggested the May 10 Village Board meeting be the latest to select a contractor.

When work starts will depend on the contractor, he said. Typically, it’s two weeks to a month after the contract is awarded.

A start date, he said, isn’t as important as a completion date.

“Allowing the completion date to be later helps on pricing so we’re not rushing contractors to fit this project into their schedule,” Greely said.

“One contractor may want to hit ground early, another may want to start later. That’s just some of the flexibility that’s to your advantage.”

The project will be paid for with $979,000 from the village’s sewer fund and $919,000 from its water fund. The total includes engineering work and a 25% contingency.

Village Treasurer Vickie Boehnlein said a five-year loan will have the sewer fund paying $212,000 per year and the water fund $199,000 per year.

The funds have the money for the work. The water fund will use $300,000 of its fund balance, essentially a savings account, but would still have $350,000 remaining in the account.

Boehnlein recommended continuing the village’s plan to raise water rates by 3% every 12 to 18 months — if it qualifies under Public Service Commission guidelines — to build the fund balance back up.

The Village Board on Monday unanimously agreed to hold the public information meeting.

A public hearing will be required once the assessments have been determined.

Village President Pete Anzia said the affected property owners should “start saving your money.”

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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