Edgar needs to pick sewer rate structure
Edgar village sewer rates will increase because of a planned $3.1 million wastewater treatment plant reconstruction, engineer Gary Strand, Cooper Engineering, Rice Lake, told the village board on Monday, but also possibly because the village may wish to change how it charges for sewer service.
Strand told trustees that the current average residential user pays $453 a year for sewer service and he had calculated, based on the loan payments needed for the sewer plant and related manhole and lift station projects, for those charges to increase to $691 per year.
Strand said USDA wants to evaluate the Edgar project for funding based on sewer service charged according to Equivalent Domestic Units (EDU). Under this rate structure, he explained, average residential charges would jump to $751 a year.
Strand said his first projected rate increase would have put Edgar sewer charges at .82 percent of Edgar median income. Under the EDU approach, the charges will be at 1.37 percent of the village median income. That’s not happy news, Strand said, but noted that sewer rates would, even after the increase, fall far short of being two percent of village median income, the threshold for USDA hardship grants.
Strand said USDA is not mandating Edgar adopt the EDU approach, but the village board may want to consider adopting the system to make sewer billing more fair.
Currently, he said, Edgar sewer users are charged a fixed rate based on their meter size. Under EDU, this fixed rate is based on annual water usage.
“Think of two bars in town, one with a one-inch meter and the other with a two-inch meter,” he said. “The bar with the two-inch meter pays a higher fixed charge, but might use less water and have less sewer use than the bar with a one-inch meter. EDU is about making that more equal.”
In related news, Strand told trustees that the village would pay $2,500 for a 500-year flood study and $6,438 for a historic review of Edgar buildings as required by USDA in the village’s wastewater plant loan application.
The village board voted to approve a three percent increase in local water utility rates, as permitted by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.
With the higher rates, the average quarterly charge for water paid by a residential user (12,000 gallons) will increase from $73.10 to $75.24.
In other village board business:
_ Board members voted to grant Greg Heiden an easement that will allow him to construct a three-foot sidewalk on the south side of his apartment building at 204 S. Third Street (the old Hardware Hank retail store). Heiden initially wanted an eight-foot wide sidewalk that would accommodate air conditioning units but board members objected to this idea, saying that his renters would clutter up the area with bicycles and toys.
Trustee Jon Streit said a skinnier sidewalk would have a “cleaner” look. “It would fit the town,” he said.
n Police Chief Tyler Geske said he was in the process of hiring part-time officers. He said it was difficult to find part-time help and floated the idea of hiring a second, full-time officer.
n Board members approved a fiveyear streets plan. The plan calls for finishing off the Thomas Hill Rd. project (First Ave. to Wisconsin), which will include moving a lift station, as a first priority. A second priority will be to reconstruct 700 feet of Birch St. in front of Edgar Public School with replacement of 526 feet of storm sewer. The project would include new sidewalk and curb and gutter, a responsibility of the school, which, trustees acknowledged, faces financial difficulties. Blacktopping Weinkauf, Edgewood and Spurce Street in the Braunel subdivision is noted as a possible project. Lower priority projects are blacktopping Brewster Court and Beech Street.Village administrator Jennifer Lopez said USDA sewer plant funding would help pay for the Thomas Street lift station project and that the village could borrow money or use Tax Incremental Finance account surpluses to pay for other streetwork. She noted the village’s TIF No. 4 will be paid off in 2036 with a $1,171,419 surplus. TIFs 1 and 3 will be closed out in 2034 with an $81,821 surplus.
n Board members agreed to interview engineering firms in order to select one as a village civil engineering firm. Trustee Jon Streit, Streets and Recycling Committee chairman, said that communication between the village and engineering firms in charge of street projects has been poor and needed to improve. “In the last two projects, there was huge miscommunication,” the trustee said.
n Board members approved Halloween trick of treating for Saturday, Oct. 31, 3-5 p.m.
Trustees noted that some communities had cancelled trick or treating due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Village president Terry Lepak said that was not acceptable. “My grandkids would run me out of town if I cancelled Halloween,” he said.
n Board members authorized administrator Lopez to spend the $23,752 left in the village’s Route to Recovery CARES Act federal grant on qualifying expenditures, such as enhanced meeting software and camera equipment, helmets and face shields for the police department, protective voting booths, Smart televisions for board rooms and, possibly, new iPads for board members.