Village of Pound water rates are likely to rise

By: 
Shirley Prudhomme

POUND – If a water rate increase requested by the Village of Pound water utility is approved by Wisconsin Public Service Commission (WPSC) as expected, customers will see the water portion of their water and sewer bills nearly double effective with the second quarter bills they will receive in July. This is in addition to the 8% WPSC simplified rate increase allowed automatically by WPSC that went into effect in January.

Clerk/Treasurer Diane Patz announced at the monthly Village Board meeting on Monday, March 11 that WPSC had scheduled a virtual public hearing on the rate increase via “Zoom” for 11 a.m. on Tuesday, March 19. Patz said she and Public Works/Utility Director Scott Fuelle would be at the village hall at that time to assist anyone who wanted to participate in the hearing via Zoom. Patz said notices of the public hearing had been properly posted in advance at the Village Hall, Community Center and Post Office and on the village web site.

For some years the utility has been unable to raise rates enough to cover operating expenses, and to deal with costs that were increasing faster than rates could go up the village last year hired a consultant, Ginny Hintz of Onward Accounting, to collect data and prepare the application to WPSC for an increase sufficient to deal with inflation. This is the first conventional rate increase requested by the village since 2007. 

The WPSC letter noted the village had been approved for simplified rate increases in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2023. Financial reports at the March 11 board meeting showed that the utility has an outstanding loan of $217,194.47. 

The new rate includes an increase from $32,978 to $44,498 in the amount paid directly by the village for fire protection. WPSC said the increase in water utility costs results from a 29.71 increase in water plant investment and a 199.17% in operating expenses since the last conventional rate increase in 2007.

The rate increase will bring water bill cost for a small residential user (4,000 gallons) from $43.84 to a total of $88.61 after adding the fee for fire protection. Large residential users (15,000 gallons) will increase from $155.22 to $322.25 for the quarter. Sewer bills will continue at the rates that went into effect in January.

Also, at the meeting Patz announced a bit of good news - Pound had received a check from the Coleman Water and Sewer Utility for $8,062. As part of her work collecting data for the rate increase application. Hintz had done some work with the Coleman Water and Sewer Utility, from which Pound purchases wastewater treatment services. It was found that Pound should not be billed for construction and engineering for the pending Coleman Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) improvements until they are made, and possibly some of those costs could be covered by grants. Patz said earlier that day she had received an informational packet on the Coleman WWTP’s 2023 audit.

Patz also reported that Judge Clifford Patz has resigned as judge for Northeast Wisconsin Municipal Court, and the Village of Coleman is expected to appoint Lisa Patz to replace him until the term expires in April of 2025.

She reminded everyone that polls in Pound will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the spring elections on Tuesday, April 2. There are three candidates on the ballot competing for two Village of Pound Trustee positions - Joan Hannan, Kevin Schutte and incumbent Bethany Navis. Incumbent Trustee Morgan Messenger did not file nomination papers for return to office. Candidates for the two Coleman School Board positions to be filled are Adam Bieber, who will be new to the board, and incumbent Corey Kuchta. Long-time School Board member Scot Herzog did not seek return to office.

Village officials present for the meeting in addition to Patz and Fuelle were Village President Terry Earley and trustees John Homontowski, Bethany Navis, Morgan Messenger and Mike Rogodzinski. Also on hand were Schutte and Hannan.

During time for public comment Hannan said she had a question she felt was appropriate to ask Schutte, since he is on the ballot for the Spring election, and then asked him, “If by chance you get to be a village trustee, are you and your wife going to move back here and live in your garage 51% of the time?” Schutte said they would, and Hannan said she understood the garage was not livable. Schutte said that was not true, asked how she would know, and added he will live there more than 51 percent of the time.

Rogodzinski reported the fire department had one call in the past month. That was to an accident, and it was cancelled before firefighters arrived. In addition to regular training firefighters had a separate training with Jefferson Fire Department; Air Paks purchased by the Pound firefighters thanks to a successful $102,000 FEMA Grant application had arrived, and were delivered by the Jefferson firefighters.

Rogodzinski said Mursau’s Piggly Wiggly and the community had donated $4,727 from a “Roundup” fund raising event, and Mutual Insurance of Wausau had donated $1,000, and declared the generous donations were “outstanding.”

Patz noted the village currently has no ordinance regulating retention and/or destruction of village records, and said by law they should have one. The board agreed she should begin this process with the Historical Society.

By unanimous vote the board approved adding provisions for a clothing allowance of up to $300 to the Employee Handbook in the same way it is dealt with in the Village of Lena handbook.

Also approved, by a vote of 3 to 2, with Navis and Homontowski opposed, were operator licenses for R. Steiner and C. Prior for the WUMPA Truck Pulls and Pound Car Show, along with a Temporary Class B Retailer’s license for the Knights of Columbus for the WUMPA Truck Pulls and Pound Car Show.

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