Written by MICHAEL LoCICERO
Wednesday, 11 December 2013 18:00
Officials say cost of treatment facility work responsible for increase
Sewer rates in the Village of Belgium will increase by 19% next year due to maintenance upgrades with the village’s public sewers and wastewater treatment facilities, village officials said Monday.
A typical resident will see an average increase of about $29 on their quarterly water and sewer utility bill under the proposal. Residents will be charged $5.69 per 1,000 gallons on their 2014 quarterly sewer bills.
Wastewater Superintendent Neil Anderson said the village should see a much lower increase the following year.
“Going forward, we should only see a 2-3% increase,” he said. “We made some mistakes on some previous budgets where we should have been looking five years down the road instead of one or two years.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow.”
Village President Rich Howells said it is a “lesson learned that we need to stay on top of this.”
The numbers were originally presented to the village board in November by McMahon Group, an engineering and architect firm based in Neenah.
“This increase actually leaves little wiggle room if the village would have to replace any structures or anything other than equipment,” Amy Vaclavik, senior project engineer for McMahon Group, said. “This increase is on the low end, but it’s important to keep it reasonable for the community.”
Another reason for the increase is a “few minor debt increases” the village has taken on by completing capital improvement projects like Main Street sewer system updates, Vaclavik said.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources requires the village to collect revenue from utility bills to create a fund that is used to pay for utility equipment replacement.
“These numbers have gone through the ringer, so to speak,” committee Chairman John Hise said. “This basically catches us up to where we should be and allows us to be in a good position for future rates to be in line with normal inflation.”
The fund will increase from about $25,000 this year to more than $33,000 in 2014.
“For a small community, if you look at what should be contributed, it should be much higher than $33,000, but it’s important to keep the increase reasonable,” Vaclavik said. “It would be nice to be able to increase this fund by about 1% each year.”