Council approves water rate hike

by Emmitt B. Feldner
of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – City residents could see a 3 percent increase in the water rate later this year.

The City Council Tuesday approved an application to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission for the increase, to take effect in the fourth quarter.

City Administrator/Utilities Manager Brian Yerges told the council the increase – to make up decreased revenues and increased expenses – would be the first in almost three years.

He explained that the application would be a simplified rate case, which requires a less complicated application process.

State law limits the rate increase under such an application to just 3 percent, Yerges added.

That is much smaller than the increase granted in 2014, according to Yerges.

The city has not followed this procedure in the past, Yerges said, instead choosing to wait several years and seeking a larger rate increase.

The council’s Finance and Personnel Committee, he said, “thought it would be more appropriate to do smaller rate increases but more frequent rate increases.”

The council approved a request from Public Works Director Katie Austin to allow overnight parking on the municipal parking ramp through November.

“The Stayer Park project has been kind of at a bit of standstill,” Austin said. Work on the project has been waiting for Frontier to finish removing their lines from power poles, but the city is hoping that will be done by the end of next week.

That would clear the way for paving, including the current overnight parking area below the ramp next to the river. That would require those who use the area for overnight parking to find other parking, which would be offered temporarily on the ramp.

“There won’t be that many cars that take advantage of that,” Police Chief Jeff Tauscheck said of the overnight parking on the ramp. He and Austin estimated that it would be no more than three to six spaces.

An update to the city’s transient merchant ordinance to cover food trucks was approved by the council.

City Clerk/Treasurer Patty Huberty explained that the code did not address food trucks. “We’ve had some calls but nobody’s made an application,” to bring a food truck into the city, she added.

The new code addresses where food trucks can and can’t be parked and allowed signage on the trucks, including not allowing signs that are not on the truck.

Huberty said the new code sections were modeled on the city of Sheboygan’s food truck regulations.

The council approved a contract with JLJ Services of Sheboygan to provide grave digging services at the city’s cemeteries.

“We currently do not have a contract for grave digging services,” Yerges noted.

Prange Excavating had provided the services for the city for years, he related. That company was purchased about three years ago by Struve Excavating, which “inherited the Plymouth cemetery service,” Yerges said.

City staff decided to seek requests for proposals for people interested in providing the service with an eye to establishing a formal contract.

“We received five responses,” Yerges said. Of those, JLJ – which has 18 years of experience with cemetery excavation – was the lowest at $550 for adult grave openings, $325 for infant grave openings and $225 for cremations.

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