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Wauwatosa sewer projects push rates up

Jan. 22, 2014

Increasing sewer rates are expected to add almost $34 to the cost of living in Tosa this year, and those rates are expected to continue to rise over the next five years, according to city figures.

Beginning in 2011, the city embarked on a multiyear infrastructure update, replacing obsolete piping, and spending more than $26 million in three years. The $14.5 million Meinecke Avenue flood abatement project, a project on 100th Street, and another in the Ravenswood neighborhood are just a few of the larger projects the city is still paying for.

"Basically any large project in 2011 and 2012 and 2013 that had a storm or sanitary (sewer) component, the rates are helping to pay the debt associated with those projects," City Finance Director John Ruggini said.

Ruggini recommended and the city's Budget and Finance Committee approved rate increases of 13 percent on the city's portion of the sanitary sewer bill, and 17 percent on the local portion of the storm sewer charge. These will increase the bill to the average user by a combined $8.44 four times a year.

Ruggini projects spending of another $37.8 million over the next five years to make necessary repairs and replacements of the sewer infrastructure according to a "state of good repair" analysis. Rates will continue to rise.

City residents are billed four times a year for water, sanitary sewer and storm sewer services. Water charges are based on consumption, and the rate is not changing, Ruggini said.

Storm sewers are a city service, projected to cost $19.65 per household per quarter, up from $16.82. This is a flat rate based on the amount of impervious surface on a typical residential lot.

Sanitary sewer charges are paid to the city and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, and a combined bill to the average user will be $90.03 this year, up from $84.42.

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