Village could approve sewer rate increase

Public Utilities Committee recommends bump to help the repair and replacement fund catch up
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

Village of Belgium residents this fall could see their third sewer rate increase in as many years.

The Public Utilities Committee on Tuesday recommended the Village Board increase the rate by 3%.

“We realized that in our budgeting for a required repair and replacement fund, the village has not been budgeting enough, so the village has been having a shortage,” Village Clerk Julie Lesar said.

A 3% increase would move the quarterly rate for a 5/8-inch meter — encompassing 91% of the village’s customers — from $125.33 to $129.21.

That increase is estimated to bring in an extra $16,000, from $525,000 to $541,000.

The volume rate would rise 3% as well, from $6.22 per 1,000 gallons of use to $6.41.

In addition, the committee directed that the village do an inventory of all its wastewater equipment, including its treatment plant and six lift stations, in order to better track required repairs and replacement.

This would be the third time in three years the village has increased the sewer rate by 3%. The last increase took effect in March 2018, one year after the first 3% increase.

In late 2017, the board said the increase was needed to catch up with operating costs and maintenance.

Early in 2017, the board noted that the sewer utility had been running a deficit that the village paid for with its fund balance — essentially a savings account for emergencies and one-time purchases — triggering a concern from auditors.

The village hired an engineer to examine the utility and received a recommendation of a 9% to 14% rate increase.

Those larger increases didn’t fly with the committee. It settled on 3%, which met the sewer utility’s expenses.

Trustees weren’t happy about raising the rate.

“The No. 1 complaint about living in this village is the water rate,” Josh Borden said.

Village sewer and water charges are combined into one bill.

The Village Board is expected to consider the latest 3% recommended increase at its July 14 meeting.

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