Spring Green board says ‘no’ to sewer rate increase

Nicole Aimone, Editor-in-Chief 

Spring Green Village Hall

The Spring Green Village Board rejected three options for adjusting Sewer utility rates this year, after village residents saw a major increase in water rates already. 

The board took up the matter at its Jan. 27 virtual meeting, where it discussed an analysis done by Johnson Block and Company, Inc on the water and sewer utilities in the village. 

According to Al Brey, the person responsible for the utility analysis, the village has not raised it’s sewer utility rates since 2015, and costs to the village have risen approximately 16% since then. 

Based on the analysis, Brey provided the village with three options for changing sewer utility rates, the first including a 5% rate of return for the village, with a charge of $34.56 per meter and $3.95 per 1,000 gallons, which is lower than the current volume charge in the village, said Brey. 

The second option included keeping the volume charge at its current rate of $4.26 per 1,000 gallons, and increasing the fixed charge $25.60 per meter. That would increase the village’s revenue by approximately $39,000 annually, and increase customers sewer bill by about 5% quarterly. 

The third option presented to the board was to keep the volume charge at $4.26 per 1,000 gallons, and increase the per meter charge to $34.56. This would increase the village’s revenue by approximately $28,000, while increasing customers’ bill by about 11% per quarter. 

While it was not included in the report, Brey did inform the board a fourth option included taking no action. 

“The rates, at least looking at 2019, did provide a positive cash flow of $160,000 and I think you still have a pretty healthy cash balance,” said Brey. 

Village Clerk Wendy Crary agreed with Brey, noting the recent hefty increase to the resident water utility rates. 

“I think the water rate was probably a big enough hit that they’re going to see in the first quarter in April, that I’m not real comfortable with passing another rate [increase], even if it’s small,” said Crary. “And I was wasn’t simply saying not to do anything ever, but at least postpone it for a year. That was kind of my thought process. Because you know, that water increase was very significant. And you didn’t have the options with the water utility that you do with the sewer utility.” 

Crary noted that the sewer utility fund has the most cash in non-tax season times. 

Trustee Michael Broh echoed Crary’s sentiments, agreeing that waiting on an increase would be best. 

“I think we are going to need to do this a year from now. But I think staggering this helps. And we’ve got the money in the fund right now to give us a little breathing room on it,” said Broh. “So I agree with you. I think we should do it. But do it a year from now. And I think your recommendations are the right ones a year from now.” 

In December, the board, along with a decision from the Public Service Commission (PSC), voted to raise water utility rates by 73% in the new year. 

According to the PSC’s appendices to the order it gave the village, 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 board did not take formal action on the Sewer matter, however Village President Eugene Hausner determined it was the consensus of the board to table the changes until 2022, with Crary set to bring the matter back to the board in October. 

Virtual meetings  

The board also unanimously voted to continue meeting via Zoom through the month of February, and will reconsider the matter monthly. 

The board will consider meeting virtually and in-person at the second February meeting, set for 7 p.m. Feb. 24.