By Patricia Bogumil
This spring, around the time the Waterford Sanitary District plans to cut its quarterly user fees by about 5 percent, a 10 percent increase from the Western Racine County Sewerage District will kick in.
But that doesn’t matter, according to Dan Dickinson, the WSD board president.
“Their increase does not impact my plans to push for a WSD user rate reduction,” Dickinson said via email Jan. 13, adding: “I think the short answer is that WSD has planned ahead for an increase.”
At the WSD board’s Jan. 9 monthly meeting, Lynn Tamblyn, representing Western Racine, discussed the upcoming fee hike being charged to all municipalities that use Western Racine’s services.
Besides the Town of Waterford, Western Racine also treats sewage from the villages of Waterford and Rochester.
The processing fee that Western Racine charges each municipality is based on dollars charged per 1,000 gallons processed.
As a result of last year’s drought, infiltration was lower, the amount of waste water flowing into the sewerage plant is down, and Western Racine’s cash flow has dropped, making it harder for Western Racine to pay certain bills.
Also, sewage haulers whose payments make up nearly one-third of Western Racine’s revenue have cut their use of the plant by about 6 percent, Tamblyn said.
In 2013, Western Racine’s rates could have gone up by 15 percent, but instead the rate increase is being held at about 10 percent, Tamblyn said.
Since WSD flow rates are down due to the drought, the 10.3 percent treatment fee hike does not mean WSD costs will go up by the same 10.3 percent, Dickinson said.
WSD budgeted $345,000 for Western Racine charges in 2013, which is about 14 percent higher than the average of the last two years, Dickinson said. That leaves enough cushion in the budget so the 10.3 percent Western Racine rate increase will not result in a significant impact, he explained.
“We are still planning to have discussions with them to ensure that what WSD is being billed is fair and balanced relative to all other entities that utilize their services,” he said. WSD will also ask what it can do internally to help Western Racine lower its costs, Dickinson said.
While having less infiltration sounds like it should be a good thing, in this case having less infiltration seems to be the reason for a rate increase, Dickinson said, “and to me that just seems to be upside down.”