Board agrees to plan calling for rate increases of 9% for sewer, 7.2% for water, effective April 1
Village of Grafton residents and businesses can expect to pay more for water and sewer service next spring.
The Village Board agreed on Monday to ask the Wisconsin Public Service Commission to approve a 7.2% increase in water rates and approved a 9% hike in sewer rates, effective April 1, 2014.
Both increases are needed, Water and Wastewater Director Tom Krueger said, to allow the utility to offset operating expenses and debt service, help pay for improvement projects and reduce the need for future borrowing.
The village last raised utility rates in 2009, Krueger said. The increases were proposed by utility rate consultant John Mayer.
The proposed water-rate hike would raise the average residential customer’s bill for 12,000 gallons of use by $4.32 per quarter, to $56.33. The montly increase would be $1.44.
The new sewer rate will raise the average residential bill by $7.86 per quarter, to $85.77, for 12,000 gallons of use. The monthly increase is $4.06.
Village President Jim Brunnquell defended the rate hikes.
“From time to time, there will be adjustments that need to be made. We’re looking it as a revenue fund, not something paid for out of taxes,” Brunnquell said.
The board approval came on a 5-1 vote, with Trustee Jim Grant opposed. Grant questioned the need for rate increases when the utility was able to add a hospital — Aurora Medical Center — to its customer base in 2010.
“If you add a big user like that, it should decrease the rates,” Grant said.
Krueger said that Aurora has helped delay rate increases by offsetting the loss of other users, including large manufacturing companies, but can’t lower rates.
Mayer told the board the village’s water consumption has decreased 15% in the last 10 years due to a drop in industrial use and water conservation efforts.
“Unfortunately, a conservation effort does have an effect on revenue but not expenses,” Mayer said.
Mayer will submit an application to the Public Service Commission, which he said is expected to take 120 to 150 days to act on the village’s water-rate increase request. As a result, he said, both new rates could probably not go into effect until April 1.
The Public Works Board recommended raising both rates.