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Sewer rates to increase in Whitefish Bay's 2014 budget

Village tax rate to increase slightly

Nov. 19, 2013

Whitefish Bay — Sewer rates will increase by 16 percent next year in Whitefish Bay under the 2014 budget adopted by the village.

After conducting a public hearing on Monday, the Village Board adopted resolutions approving the main components of the 2014 budget, including its four utility funds. The board also approved a separate resolution for the sewer utility rate increase.

Beginning Jan. 1, the rate will rise from $2.65 per 100 cubic feet to $3.07 per 100 cubic feet, an increase expected to generate more than $400,000 in additional revenue for metered local usage in 2014, compared with what is projected for 2013.

Village Manager Patrick DeGrave said the rate increase, which was initially proposed at 33 percent for 2014, will be split between 2014 and 2015 in an effort to ease the burden on users. The increase, along with the transfer of about $227,000 from the village's 2014 capital fund, will help offset increased debt service payments of more than $500,000, which will fund projects along Larkin Street and Hollywood, Hampton and Bartlett avenues, in addition to design and construction inspection services.

Since 2011, the village's debt service costs have increased by 108 percent for its sewer utility and 45 percent for its water utility, as presented during a recent budget review session. With a continued focus on infrastructure improvements, the 2014 budget includes a total of about $11.6 million in capital projects to be financed through a combination of borrowing and special assessments for water, sewer and stormwater utility improvements, as stated in the letter of transmittal for the proposed budget.

Taxpayers can also expect a slightly higher tax rate next year, with a budgeted increase of 2 cents from 2013, to $5.37 per $1,000 of assessed value. For the average homeowner in Whitefish Bay, that would amount to about an $8 increase in village taxes in 2014.

According to a memo presented during one of the Village Board's three budget review sessions, of the North Shore communities, Whitefish Bay proposes the lowest 2014 tax rate by about 86 cents, with most of the communities proposing a tax rate increase of six to 13 cents.

Total 2014 expenditures are estimated at $14.3 million, which includes funding for items such as an actuarial study to determine the village's Other Post Employment Benefits liability and a placeholder to cover a portion of the actual liability, an employee wellness program, new police vehicles, increased pothole repairs throughout the village, and a village-wide reassessment.

For more details on the budget, visit www.wfbvillage.org, and select "2014 Recommended Budget" from the green "Quick Links" section on the right side of the page. The budget approved by the Village Board includes some modifications from the initially proposed version.

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