HG sewer rate hike approved

by Steve Ottman Review Correspondent

HOWARDS GROVE—The Village Board approved a 33 percent sewer rate increase Tuesday.

The rate increase is needed to pay for required updates to the village’s wastewater treatment plant to enable it to operate within Department of Natural Resources guidelines.

The board unanimously approved the resolution to add $30 to the current charge of $90 to make a total of $120 per quarter. The rate increase will take effect March 1. It was estimated that this would affect 1,461 residential units.

Larry Krause of Donohue and Associates summarized the wastewater plant’s condition and noted that the last upgrade was in 2001, when rates increased from $65 to $90. Krause recommended short term and long term improvements that would keep up with projected population for Howards Grove until the year 2035.

“The plant itself is in excellent condition,” said Krause. “It’s a very good performing facility.”

During the public hearing portion of the meeting, one resident asked whether the village thought about using a dryer.

Krause stated that the costs associated with drying raw sewage are very expensive for a village the size of Howards Grove. He felt that the cost of getting rid of the wastewater would be too high.

“It makes sense for the larger cities, however the costs would raise the rates much higher,” Krause remarked.

Another question was asked if the village looked into other ways of collecting the fee and if a usage charge would be better that a flat rate charge.

Krause explained that it is more difficult to measure water discharge per household without installing water meters. “Is it fair, no, but the village can’t keep track of this,” he stated.

Village Clerk/Treasurer JoAnn Lesser discussed maintaining the village’s membership in the Towns Association Sheboygan County unit. A $10 membership was approved. Meetings are held on Friday nights at different townships in the county.

Lesser also asked the board members about the changing the Village Hall office hours to save the village money.

The current office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lesser suggested hours from 8-4 and cited that normally the office personal put in a 9½ hour day.

“Typically its busy early, however most of the traffic is at lunch time,” said Lesser. “More people use our drop-box than are coming in (to the office).”

Village President James Scheiber asked Lesser if she could show projected savings and explain the changes in the village’s newsletter. “I’ve always been in favor of putting changes out to the public,” said Scheiber.

Deputy Clerk Jill Schleicher questioned Scheiber’s comments. Schleicher felt that putting the new hours in the newsletter should be enough.

Scheiber replied that since he has been president his goal is to be transparent about changes. He likes the idea with the possible 10 percent savings expected.

“With reducing of our services, we should give appropriate notice,” Scheiber stated.

Lesser noted that she works hard to save the village and taxpayers money. Lesser is very conscious of trying to save money for the village.

The board approved rate changes for 2016. Liquor licenses would be raised to $350. Equipment rental charges would be all at $60 per hour. The cost to establish a natural lawn would be $250 per permit.

Trustee Jeff Plass suggested dropping the park impact fee. Money could be funded from new building permits.

Public Works Director Ryan Welsing was worried that if the village drops this it would affect money being saved for the new park.

Plass felt that he wants to save the taxpayers’ money and he doesn’t see enough money coming in from the impact fees to keep this going.

Lesser added that the village has received no money in the last two years from the impact fees.

The monthly and year-end financial report was reviewed.

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