12/14/2018- Menominee Water and Sewer customers could be looking at a significant rate increase next year, but exactly how much is still under study.
Jeff Sjoquist of Coleman Engineering presented a draft report of a rate study update to the Water and Wastewater Utility Board Thursday. The increases are needed to fund planned capital projects over the next several years. The city is planning a number of street projects funded by the road millage. But while the millage pays for the road construction, when water and sewer lines underneath the streets are replaced that must be paid for by the Water/Wastewater Utility. The city is also looking at upgrading the filtration system in the water plant to make it more efficient. The city plans to borrow to cover the costs of those projects, but the water and sewer rates would have to be raised to pay back those loans.
In the study. the estimated borrowing for the first phase of the street projects comes to nearly $10 million. Another $1.4 million would be borrowed for the water plant upgrade. A second phase of street work to complete the road millage projects would cost the utility another $7.3 million, with that borrowing projected for 2022. To pay for that borrowing, the study says it would take an increase in the quarterly water and sewer bill for the average homeowner of $54 per quarter, a 42% increase on the water portion of the bill and 36% increase on the sewer portion. The possibility of phasing in the increase over multiple year was discussed.
Now that there are some numbers to look at, City Manager Tony Graff says the city will continue to look at the proposed projects to see how the costs and impact on rate payers can be reduced. Graff says a proposed rate increase would need to be approved by the city council in March in order to have the figures in time to be used in the loan applications. That rate increase would likely go into effect next July.