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Beaver Dam Common Council approves sewer rate increases

January 8, 2019

The Beaver Dam Common Council on Monday night approved raising rates for sewer users.

The rate increase will be about 35 percent overall, but will affect different types of users differently. An average residential user will see an increase of about $20 on the bill each quarter, or about $80 per year. Now, an average family pays roughly in the range of $100 to $130 a quarter.

The council’s Operations Committee recommended the increases in December after an auditing firm recommended the changes.

The rate change is meant to address increased expenses and lower-than-projected revenue from industrial customers, which partially came from businesses pursuing efficiencies as well as other situations. The change is also meant to help build cash flow and stave off borrowing as projects move forward and infrastructure ages. A 35 percent increase overall will raise about $1 million in revenue.

Council member Ken Anderson said he didn’t believe that homeowners were being treated fairly compared to industrial customers with the rates. Council member Kara Nelson agreed with Anderson’s notion that homeowners are being held accountable for industry decisions and positions.

Utilities Director Rob Minnema said the rates are equitable and that it’s wrong to suggest otherwise. He also said Beaver Dam’s rates are still among the lowest in the area.

“I’m not sure of the argument that we’re punishing customers,” he said. “I just don’t get it.”

Nelson also said it felt like homeowners were being charged for reducing their water use as people strive to be more sustainable, to which other officials argued there will be the fixed costs of infrastructure to homes, and necessary improvements for it.

The final vote was 12-2, with Nelson and Anderson voting no.

The council also received a presentation from a company that provides insurance for property owners to replace their sewer laterals if that or other issues with their sewage systems come up.

The council approved last month requiring homeowners to replace their water and sewer laterals should they be determined to be defective or unusable.

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