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Sunday, November 08, 2009

Large Wastewater Rate Increase Expected In Janesville

I was holding back this post for a few days to see how the Janesville Gazette would report on the wastewater rate hike proposal as presented in the council agenda by the city administration. As it turns out the newspaper did not publish any report on the expected rate hike or agenda for Monday's city council meeting.
Agenda Excerpt:
As such, adjustments in the rates have occurred. This rate adjustment will generate an additional $2,125,200 in revenue in fiscal year 2010, or an overall increase in rates of 30.3%, effective January 1, residential 2010. The proposed rate adjustment will result in the average wastewater bill increasing by 29.3%, or $18.05 per quarter.
Let's back up a moment. For the past year, the Janesville water utility (with the help from the watchdog Gazette) repeatedly used the term "quarterly water bill" here and here rather loosely to help present a previous water rate increase. They pegged the average quarterly water bill at $40. For all practical purposes, Janesville residents do not receive a "wastewater bill" per se. Wastewater charges are included on the invoice most Janesville residents would call the "quarterly water bill."

Now that we're past that, it appears the city administration is making a slightly better effort to draw a distinction between the wastewater portion and the supply side on the "average quarterly water bill."From this we can assume the old average residential quarterly water bill was about $106 ($40 water supply + $61 wastewater and $5 fire department). After this latest increase including the one from earlier in the year, the new average "quarterly water bill" should be around $130.55

Well, we are still making assumptions. These figures may or may not include the fixed wastewater fee which the administration describes as rising disproportionately for different users. Got that? I would suppose that feature arose from the recently approved Clean Wisconsin agreement.

Still, the city administration appears to have made an effort this time and might begin to figure out what most people define as their water bill. Perhaps someday the term "quarterly water bill" in Janesville will mean just that - the total of all the charges from utilities that appear on our "quarterly water bill" and not just what administration officials want it to mean at any given time to fit their specific presentation or goal.

It's just as well the Gazette didn't run Monday's council agenda through their filter, at least now we see the information as it was intended - straight from the horse's mouth.

Revision: Only hours before the Janesville City council meeting, the Janesville Gazette posted a short blog entry? placing the projected "new" average quarterly water bill after the wastewater rate proposal at $120.40. This should be fairly accurate since the earlier water supply rate increase (mentioned in the above post) was replaced instead by Clean Wisconsin's progressive water rate policy.

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