As all of you have seen your utility bill has gone up. Back in August a Public Hearing Notice was published discussing the rate increase and stated that if you had questions you could attend the Public Hearing.
I want to apologize for not explaining it a little better in the tax newsletter about the new rates so hopefully this will explain the reasoning for this increase.
The Village Wellhouse needed to be updated to meet DNR regulations. The Village received a $150,000 grant from the Community Development Block Grant – Public Facilties and they also received a low interest loan from the Safe Drinking Water Loan Program. In order to even apply for the grant and loan there was a stipulation that the Village had to submit a Conventional Rate Case (CRC) Application for water rates with the Public Service Commission (PSCW). Once the CRC is submitted it is out of the Village’s hands on where the rates go. The PSCW looks at the Village’s financial reports and sees where they currently are and where they need to be and then they set the rates accordingly. Back in 2008 there was a rate increase for the STH80 project, with this rate increase there was a step 2 increase, which the Village board at the time choose not to implement which ended up keeping the rates lower in 2008.
The large rate increase at this time includes the impacts of implementing the 2nd step of the rate increase that PSCW authorized in 2008 related to Highway 80 and County I upgrades that the Village Board chose not to implement to help keep rates lower for as long as possible and the increase associated with further upgrades to the water system including the wellhouse. Had the Village Board accepted the PSCW approved 2nd step of the rate increase after completion of Hwy 80 customers would have seen the majority of the current rate increase a few years ago and would have already been paying those rates. This current increase would then have been smaller on a percentage basis, but at the end of the day the current bills would still be the same.