NEW BREMEN – New Bremen Village Council began the process to raise water and wastewater rates at their meeting Monday night.
In order to meet both the current infrastructure maintenance costs as well as anticipated new construction costs, the council had its first reading of an ordinance to raise a typical 2022 water bill from $18.14 per month to $23.20 (a typical bill being 600 cu. yd. per month). The amount would rise slightly each year to a typical water bill in 2027 totaling $28.20.
More aggressive raises are planned for wastewater rates because of an anticipated need to replace the wastewater treatment plant.
The current monthly cost for an average user is $13.12. It is planned to raise the monthly bill for sewage rate to $25.40 in 2022 and gradually rise to $37.00 in 2027.
The decision to raise rates came about when the Village heard a report that the fees for water usage did not meet current costs to provide services, necessitating withdrawing extra funds from the general revenue fund.
In regard to raising wastewater rates, the EPA has been mandating that the Village reduce toxic chemicals from their wastewater effluent. Since the current plant is around 40 years old, the Village expects they will have to replace the plant at an estimated cost of $4.6 million.
Village Administrator Brent Richter said it is still uncertain how much a new wastewater treatment plant will finally cost. He said the current estimates were on the conservative side. Also, over the years it was uncertain if grants or low-cost loans would be available. However, starting now to raise rates would allow to create a financial cushion to cover future work.
In his report to council, Richter said the water tower south of town on Amsterdam Road has been leaking water. Investigation showed that the leaks were not in the water tower structure itself but something which involved the supporting infrastructure, such as a “wet box” used to control overflow. It is planned to lower the water level in the tank in order to see where the problem may be.
Richter also reported that they are in the process of cleaning wells 2,9,10 in 2022 and plan to do the balance the following year. Further, Jan. 18, the villagewill meet with the EPA on moving forward on sludge removal plans at the wastewater plant. He said the planwould reduce the strain on the aging facility.
In other business, councilre-elected Jacob Larger council president.
They approved a first reading of an ordinance to annex the 2-acre Faith Alliance Church property in German Township. Also approved was a third and final reading of an ordinance to raise employees pay rates by 3%.
The councilthen went into executive session to discuss property. They took no further action when they returned to executive session.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.