Spring Green board raises water utility rates, considers Veterans Memorial

Taylor Scott, Managing Editor 

The Spring Green village board, in line with a Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) application final decision, voted to increase water utility rates starting in the new year — with the average residential customer’s bill set to rise over 73%.

The PSC held an audio hearing on November 19, 2020 and issued the following statement in their decision, 

“No customers appeared at the hearing.  However, the applicant [Spring Green Water Utility] requested at the hearing that the Commission consider reducing the proposed rate of return from 4.9 percent to 3.00 percent.  The applicant expressed concern that the proposed rates are too high for existing customers due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.  At the hearing, the applicant asserted a 3.00 percent rate of return would decrease revenues by $46,000, reduce the proposed rate increase to approximately 54.00 percent, and still maintain adequate cash flow for the utility  The applicant waited to submit its request to reduce the rate of return until the hearing rather than during its review and acceptance of Commission staff’s proposed revenue requirement.  The Commission appreciates the applicant’s concern in this matter.  However, the Commission finds that the revenue resulting from the authorized rates is necessary to provide for the financial needs of the applicant over the long-term.  The Commission further concludes that the rates as proposed by Commission staff would provide a reasonable and nondiscriminatory recovery of the revenue requirement.  Accordingly, the Commission approves Commission staff’s proposed rates.”

According to the PSC’s appendices to the order, the average residential customer with a 5/8” meter, using 11,000 gallons of water, with a bill at the old rate of $36.09, would bill at a new rate of $62.64, a percentage change of 73.57%.

The village decided that Jan. 1, 2021 would be the effective date of the new rates, with the board affirming the order and unanimously approving the rates. The first bill with the new rates will be sent out in April 2021.

The board viewed concept drawings for the proposed Veterans Memorial. Paul Kardatzke, of project contractor Jewel Associates, presented schematics and mockups of the memorial set to be constructed in North Park.

Discussion ensued regarding the placement of the memorial, the schematics have the memorial roughly 150 feet north of the shelter pavilion by the Spring Green pool parking lot.  

“I was under the impression that this was going to be at the far end, by Baker Street,” said Village Trustee Robin Reid, referencing the north east corner of the park. “Because where it is now, it’s right in the middle of our green area.”

Trustee Michael Broh brought up concerns about parking off of Baker and Worcester Streets, if the village were to place the memorial in the north east corner. A sidewalk would also need to be put in if the village chose that location. 

“The next thing you know, someone is walking through someone’s property,” said Trustee Norm Miller.

The proposed location north of the pavilion is currently being used for pickup soccer games.

“The whole thing is beautiful and I’m very, very supportive of this, but I just want to make sure that if we are putting this in there that…there’s still multi-use available of that greenspace,” said Reid. “I really want to consider this greenspace a [pickup soccer] field area as well, and see if we can minimize the encroachment of the walkway, see maybe if we can change the walkway a bit, pull it further over?”

Miller proposed moving the walkway to the memorial west so that it extends from the pavilion. The board agreed with that route and sent the concepts back to committee to be redrawn with those suggestions in mind.

The board heard that Town & Country Sanitation would be newly assessing a charge for appliance disposal for a dumpster at the village burn site. The dumpster has been there for 14 years at no cost to the village and is only for metal and appliances. 

Town & Country informed the village that there will now be a charge of $50 for each appliance disposed of in the dumpster. After discussion, the board decided to remove the dumpster entirely from the village’s property and discontinue the service. It was noted that residents can call Town & Country and make arrangements to have their appliances picked up and they can also take their metal to Gauger’s in Arena.

The board approved engaging firm Johnson Block for the next three years for audits of the financial statements of the general fund, sewer utility, water utility, TIF District #6 and for the preparation of various required reports. The cost will be $18,900 for audit-year 2020, $19,400 for audit-year 2021 and $19,900 for audit-year 2022.

The board approved replacement of a transducer at the Waste Water Treatment Plant, at a cost of $5242.60. The transducer was last replaced in 1996 and serves to read the sludge level in the storage tank and sends the info to a computer in the lab to prevent tank overfill.

The board entered into a professional service agreement with HydroCorp for Cross­Connection Control Services to inspect and document its findings on the potable water distribution system in public, commercial and industrial facilities within the community, including inspections/surveys, program administration, answering telephone call inquires, scheduling of inspections, program compliance review, public education materials, preparation of quarterly management reports and annual cross connection reports. The agreement was set to cost $4,380.00 for a one year contract.

The board approved the replacement of a mobile data computer for the Police Department, deciding on a Panasonic Toughbook from Baycom Inc. for $3,428.

The board approved the 2021 Plain Police Services Contract, providing law enforcement supervisory and administrative services to the Village of Plain, keeping the same agreement that the villages have used the last several years.

The board also approved the Spring Green Fire Protection District Annual Report. COVID testing will continue to be offered on Mondays at the fire station. 

The next regular board meeting is January 13, 2021 — the same day as the spring election caucus to nominate candidates for the spring election ballot. The board decided unanimously to hold the caucus virtually and to continue through January to hold meetings virtually.

The board will meet next on Jan. 6 at a special meeting to “discuss possible restructuring/reorganization of Village operations and staff.”