Committee discusses possible sewer rate hike in Rhinelander
Increase of 50 cents per 1,000 gallons proposed for 2017
BY KEVIN BONESKE
Sanitary sewer rates in Rhinelander could increase next year by 50 cents per 1,000 gallons under a proposed hike discussed Monday by the city’s Water/Wastewater Committee.
Committee members heard from Eugene Laschinger of Town and Country Engineering about options to increase the rates following the sewer work on Brown Street that has been part of the downtown Streetscape project.
Laschinger said the city’s wastewater utility will have $2.6 million in “unrestricted cash” on hand that could be used to keep rates lower for the immediate future. He noted increasing the current sewer rate of $8.75 per 1,000 gallons to $9.25 per 1,000 gallons next year wouldn’t be expected to create enough revenue to cover expenses, which he estimated at $110,000 more than the annual revenues.
In addition to the cash on hand offsetting that projected deficit with a 50-cent increase, the rate revision projections Laschinger presented to the committee include the Brown Street project, but don’t include any future projects besides the annual budget of about $300,000 for sewer replacement.
Though the proposed sewer rate for next year would keep the monthly fixed rate at $17.33, Laschinger reported that the “average residential monthly rate,” based on 3,050 gallons per month, would be $45.55, or $1.53 more.
Laschinger suggested keeping a sewer rate at $9.25 per 1,000 gallons in place from 2017-19 and then increasing the rate to $10.50 per 1,000 gallons in 2020, but he noted another option would be to increase the rate to $9.75 per 1,000 gallons in 2019 to delay the increase to $10.50 for another 2-3 years.
Committee member Mark Pelletier said the proposed sewer rate increase is a “lot less than could be expected” for the size of the Streetscape project.
The plan to change the sanitary sewer utility rate was on the committee’s agenda for discussion only with no action taken.