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Friday, May 15, 2009

Phantom City Growth Driving Up Janesville Water Bills

DNR Excerpt:
Janesville is proposing extensive upgrading and renovations throughout the treatment plant to replace aging equipment or facilities, and to provide increased treatment capacity to accommodate future growth.
With the closing of the GM plant, Janesville's water utility lost 9% of it's water usage volume - a figure which should correspond favorably to the utility's newly found ability to accommodate future growth. Without GM, the Janesville water utility system is under-utilized. So under-utilized in fact, they are proposing a 15% increase in water rates charged to its' customers to make up for the lost volume.
DNR Excerpt:
The project has an estimated capital cost of $32,100,000. Assuming a Clean Water Fund loan is obtained, it’s anticipated that the typical residential user charge would increase from $51.50 per quarter to $66.80 per quarter.
Where did the DNR get those figures? In a very recent article from the Janesville Gazette, the city administration claimed the "average" water utility bill was $40 a quarter. That's an error of 21% assuming the DNR's figures are closer to reality. The newspaper published this same figure undisputed again in a follow-up article. Obviously, somebody was lying or deliberately misrepresented the "average" bill by leaving out the waste water numbers from the bill. The Gazette just plays right along and delivers the misinformation right up to their subscriber's doorsteps.

So as it stands, the Janesville administration requested a 15% hike in water rates to make up for the drop in demand from GM. Followed by the waste water upgrade request, a request partially built on the accommodation of future growth. That's another 30% increase in rates. In addition, the administration is proposing a water tower for the NE side (administration says not for growth) which will likely lead to another 15% increase on top.

Barring further adjustments for inflation and other unforeseen events, and depending on the sequence of the three rate increases (15-30-15) the city administration and council have planned for us, a $80 quarterly Janesville water bill will likely balloon to approximately $135. With no fault at all going to the current users or the system's ability to serve future sustainable growth.

As long as the Janesville city council continues to rubber stamp this series of increases along with the wrong-headed basis on which they are founded, there is little Janesville residents can do to reverse the direction.


Anonymous said...

The undeserved reputation of fiscal conservatism and tight management policies Janesville officials enjoyed for decades was built on the wealth of GM. Welcome to the real world!

Lou Kaye said...

You are so right, anonymous. City officials are pretending like its still 1999. Perhaps if they imagine the jobs are there, and manage like the jobs are there, and spend like the jobs are there - the jobs will just magically appear. Now that's positive thinking!

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