Council agrees to boost sewer, stormwater fees

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The Oshkosh Common Council voted Tuesday to raise stormwater rates by 7.5 percent and  sewer rates by 8.5 percent.

In other water related action, the council approved a $150,000 contract amendment with CH2M HIll Engineers Inc., the firm that was hired to design the huge new “clearwells” that are planned to be installed on the shore of Lake Winnebago.

The rate increases come on top of a property tax increase of 4.3 percent for 2018 that was reflected in bills that were mailed late last week.

City staff said the sewer rate needed to go up in part because of declining sewer flows. Higher capital expenses were also cited. The increase is projected to be about $33 for the average residential user, according to city documents.

Trena Larson, director of finance, said one reason for the increase is the city’s aging infrastructure. “Our infrastructure is stressed and outdated and continually in need of replacement,” she said.

She also said costs are affected by a “very strict code of compliance and permitting.”

The boost in the stormwater rate would be the eleventh in the 15-year history of the city’s stormwater utility. The rate is set on something called an “equivalent runoff unit.” The new rate would be $172.04, compared to the current rate of $160.04 and the original rate in 2003 of $19.10.

The added CH2M Hill work included adding new features to the water filtration system as well as working on community outreach.

Separately the council voted for city employees who are not represented by unions to get a 2.5 percent pay increase.

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Miles Maguire

Miles Maguire is the author of Advanced Reporting: Essential Skills for 21st Century Journalism. He was the founding editor of the Oshkosh Community News Network, a nonprofit online news organization whose work was cited as a notable innovation in journalism in the 2005 Knight-Batten Awards. Send questions, comments and suggestions to miles.maguire@yahoo.com.

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