This time trustees agree to raise sewer rate

After rejecting 16.9% increase two weeks ago, Village Board approves change to pay for utility upgrades
Ozaukee Press Staff

After rejecting a 16.9% sewer-rate hike with a split vote two weeks ago, the Grafton Village Board on Monday approved the increase.

“We need to generate adequate revenues to meet the utility’s needs,” Village President Jim Brunnquell said.

The increase means the average annual sewer bill would go up $88.80 — from $590 to $678.80 — for 2019. The proposal was driven by a significant decrease in water and sewer use, based on a study conducted by Trilogy Consulting of Oconomowoc.

Last year, the board approved a 12.5% water rate increase and said it would also increase sewer rates annually through 2021. The board agreed to review the sewer rate increase each year.

“I have a problem with this. At some point we’re going to reach rock bottom,” Trustee Lisa Uribe Harbeck said. “This is too much to pay for in a four-year time period. The initial numbers looked bad enough, and the new estimates are hard to handle. For some citizens that is a lot of money.”

Trustee Sue Meinecke agreed and suggested that industrial users be charged more than residents.

Although there has been significant commercial and residential growth in the village, the study reported that the amount of water sold by the Water and Wastewater Utility decreased by 87.2 million gallons during the past 15 years. Use dropped from 412.6 million gallons in 2000 to 325.4 million gallons in 2015, according to the study.

The decrease in sewer use resulted in a $202,574 loss of revenue for the utility, the study said.

To makeup for the shortfall, Trilogy recommended a sewer rate increase of 16.9% for this year, with annual increases of 15.3% and 15% in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

Another reason for the proposed rate increase is to finance an overhaul of the village’s wastewater treatment facility, which was built in 1983.

Public Works Facility Operations Coordinator Larry Roy said that while the plant has had various equipment upgrades over the years, the facility has exceeded its lifespan of 30 years.

“These projects have to happen regardless,” Brunnquell said. “After time, things wear out. It’s the cost of doing business.”

The board approved the increase by a 5-2 vote with Harbeck and Meinecke dissenting.

Trustee David Antoine voted in favor after previously voting against the increase earlier this month and Trustee David Liss, who was not in attendance at the previous meeting, also voted in favor.

The sewer rate increase will take effect Dec. 20.



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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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