Council considers water, sewer rate increases


NEW BREMEN – Water and sewer rates increases are being considered by the New Bremen Village Council. At their Monday night meeting, they heard from a consultant how high those rates should go.

Consultant Nathan Davis, of Great Lakes Community Partnership, said the current system of charging for water and sewer service was not financially self-sufficient, at times dipping into income tax revenues to pay for shortfalls.

In order to keep the revenue equal to output, Davis suggested the average 2022 water bill should amount to $23.20 for a typical household using 600 cubic foot per month. In that bill would be a basic charge of $11 and $3.05 per hundred feet of water used. The current average bill for the same service is $18.14. Over a five year term, gradual increases in the basic rate and usage charge would have the bill rise to an average of $28.20 with a minimum charge of $15 and $3.30 per hundred feet of water used in 2026.

In regards to the sewage rate, Davis recommended a more aggressive program to increase revenues to match costs. In 2022, he suggested the average monthly bill be $25.40 which includes a monthly minimum charge of $10 up from the current $5. At this time, the average sewage bill is $13.12. Further, he suggested gradual increases until the total average 2026 bill be raised to $37.00.

After some discussion, the council tabled an ordinance on a change in rates. They plan to vote on a second reading at the first meeting in January.

The village is faced with either replacing or repairing their wastewater treatment plant in the near future in order to meet EPA standards. Davis said bills for ammonia and phosphate removal would each be around $2 million along with other projects such as sludge removal.

Village Administrator Brent Richter said they recently received an EPA permit that expires at the end of 2026. The permit was issued after long negotiations on the amounts of heavy metals and other chemicals were allowed to be in wastewater coming out of the plant.

In other action, council approved a $24,864,000 annual budget for 2022. Fiscal officer Amy Speelman said large projects within the budget included a $1.5 million share by the village to pay for the Jefferson Street reconstruction project, a $150,000 dredging bill, and $394,000 half-payment for the village’s new fire truck.

Council agreed that village employees will be receiving a 3% across the board wage increase. Mayor Bob Parker said the increase was about right to meet inflation.

Approved was a second reading to award a $16,000 annual contract to solicitor Jason This.

Council approved an end-of-year meeting for Dec. 29 at 6:30 p.m.

By Sandy Rose Schwieterman

For the Sidney Daily News

The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.

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