Your water and sewer bills will be going up, in large part to support more than $9 million in necessary upgrades to the two utilities.
Earlier this month, the South Milwaukee Common Council approved a 35 percent sewer increase, effective July 1. The new sewer rates will be phased in based on consumption and the fixed rate. For example, those receiving their bills around August 1 will see one month’s consumption at the new rate and three month’s at the previous rates. The fixed rates will be pro-rated as well.
In the future, sewer rates will increase 5 percent each year starting in 2019, to help us better “pay as we go” for system upgrades, especially lining and replacement of sewer pipes, where a significant backlog exists.
The initial sewer bill increase equates to an extra $30.05 per four-month billing period for the average homeowner.
A water rate increase is likely coming later this year, as the Wisconsin Public Service Commission is in the process of reviewing the Water Utility’s rate application. Although the final increase is not known at this time, an estimated increase of between 30 to 35 percent is anticipated.
These are the first increases in these charges in more than five years.
The increases primarily reflect additional spending to construct a $3.5 million wastewater lift station and $6.5 million for water pumping station and clearwells at the water utility. I previously reported on details of both of those projects.
The common council approved bids for the wastewater project on June 5. Of note, they came back higher than expected due to competition for local contractors, especially those who specialize in earth moving, the complexity of the project, which calls for the replacement of the aging lift station on North Chicago Avenue.
Importantly, even with the increases, our water and sewer rates will remain competitive. For example, the cost of one year of sewer service for a $150,000 home with a typical consumption of 6,000 cubic feet per year is $348.15 annually. With the increase, that would go to $388.83. That compares with $513 in Oak Creek, $478.50 in Cudahy, and $589.74 in Franklin.
Look for more information on the proposed water increase in coming months.