Village looks at water utility rate increase

By Tracy Ouellette

      The East Troy Village Board discussed a water utility rate increase at Monday night’s meeting. The board directed staff to work with Ehlers and the Public Service Commission on a 22% increase in the utility.

      The need for the rate increase was outlined by an Ehlers representative, who told the board operating expenses and planned infrastructure projects would need additional funding.

      According to Ehlers, the water utility has healthy, but declining cash reserves, and the village needs to do something to rectify the deficit. Cash reserves for the water utility have dropped more than $500,000 since 2018.

      During discussion in a Committee of the Whole meeting at the Village Board meeting, resident Mary Nicoson asked for clarification on why the rate increase was needed and if it was because of the planned infrastructure projects, including the planned road construction which would require water utility work.

      Trustee Matt Johnson said operating costs for the water utility was also rising and a rate increase would be needed regardless.

      The board considered two options for the rate increase, the first was the 22% flat increase, which the board chose. The second was an incremental annual increase over about five years. Ehlers said the downside to the second option was that it “drains cash operating pending costs year over year.”

      The Public Service Commission oversees all utility rate increases in the state.

      For the average homeowner, Ehlers said a 22% increase would be about $25 more a quarter for 15,000 gallon water usage.

      Johnson advised that residents should know the increase would not be immediate as work with the PSC needed to be completed on the increase.

      In other business Monday night, the Village Board:

      • Heard a presentation from Ehlers regarding projected borrowing for upcoming capital improvement projects including water and street projects in 2023 and 2024.

      • Approved changes to the recently adopted Ethics Ordinance with a disclosure statement and revisions to the village’s Personnel Policy Manuel.

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