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Cornell City Council; Sewer rates begin rise to pay for plant improvements

By Ginna Young

It’s been expected and is now here – sewer rates are on the rise for Cornell residents. Rates were agreed on at the regular meeting Dec. 3, by passing Ordinance 20-6, which establishes new sewer rates to generate revenues for the wastewater treatment plant improvements’ project.

“It’s a quarterly bump to try to get us to that point,” said city administrator Dave DeJongh.

The ordinance states that domestic and non-domestic sewage customers receive a fixed charge of 11.65/month, while it will be $31.38 for a small user (household size of two or less) flat rate unmetered customer and $52.07/month for large users (household of three or more). Also increased, were charges dealing with the tanker truck haulers volume charge of $13.82 per 1,000 gallon for holding tank discharge and $35.94/1,000 gallon for septic tank discharge.

“We received some good news on our application to the Clean Water Fund,” said De-Jongh. “We scored high enough to be able to obtain $750,000 in principal forgiveness.”

The forgiveness will help with expenses on the wastewater treatment plant improvement project.

Equipment purchases were also on the agenda in regard to the plant project, as well as handling of change orders and Xcel Energy’s consent to improvements.

“These are some loose end type of things,” said DeJongh.

Kevin Oium, Cedar Corp., says the plant will need seven major pieces of equipment and that those working on the project need the council’s blessing to pick out items. DeJongh asked if COVID has shut down or delayed delivery of any items, but Oium said it has not affected shipment.

“Again, these things are such a long lead time,” said Oium.

With the approval, a special meeting would not have to be called to decide upon the choices and the council will review each item chosen at a regular meeting.

As for Xcel Energy, part of the treatment plant construction takes place very near to their transmission line that comes through Cornell. Therefore, the city needs consent to operate in that area, and to send them $500, as an inspection fee.

“I don’t think we’re exactly underneath it (line),” said DeJongh, “but we’re close enough into their right-of-way, that they want to know about it.”

The council also adopted a natural hazard mitigation plan, which makes the city eligible for FEMA funding. The plan came out of a meeting last year, in Cornell, through the West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission.

“Having this plan in place will speed up potential funding from the federal government,” said DeJongh.