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By LeAnn R. Ralph
ELK MOUND — The Elk Mound Village Board has approved a 10 percent sewer rate increase.
A 10 percent increase in the sewer rate this year is in addition to a 27 percent increase last year, said Karin Wolf, clerk-treasurer, at the village board’s November 7 meeting.
The percentage of increase can be lower this year because of the new customers added due to the new apartments, said Terry Stamm, village trustee.
The sewer utility has added 20 new customers so far with the construction of two eight-unit apartment buildings and one 12-unit, Wolf said.
All of the new apartments are metered, noted Mark Levra, director of public works.
In response to a question from the village board about the operating revenue for the sewer utility, Wolf said the estimated revenue by the end of the year is $195,000 and noted there will be more new customers added in the spring.
Several village board members pointed out that it would be a two or three year process to bring the sewer rates up to where they need to be in order to support the utility and that the rate of increase could be less than 10 percent next year.
The previous increases were “ground losing” because of the increases in the shortfall, Levra said.
Sampling costs have increased by 30 percent, and other costs are increasing as well, he said.
Elk Mound’s sewer utility is deregulated, so the increase does not have to be approved by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.
The Elk Mound Village Board unanimously approved the 10 percent increase in the sewer rate.
The village board approved a simplified rate increase of 4.5 percent for the water utility in October.
Water rate increases are subject to approval by the PSC, but municipalities in Wisconsin can apply for a simplified rate increase that does not have to go through the normal procedure for PSC approval, which includes a public hearing.
Wolf told the village board at the October 3 meeting that she had discovered the PSC’s simplified rate increase had changed from 3 percent to 4.5 percent for 2022.
Wolf reported to the village board that the preliminary budget for 2023 has a deficit of $51,194.
The village’s general fund could cover the deficit, she said.
Several village board members asked about the difference in revenue for the 2023 budget as compared to the 2022 budget, such as the intergovernmental revenue.
The village received American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) funds, of which $46,000 was received last year and $46,000 was received this year, Wolf said.
Stamm asked about the balance in the general fund.
The amount is just shy of $100,000, but the village will receive state-shared revenue and tax revenue, Wolf said.
The question is — how to cut expenses, said Gregg Kipp, village president.
What services would the village residents be willing to fund or not fund? he asked.
Village board members agreed that Elk Mound must find a way to encourage people to buy property in the village and to build houses and add businesses to increase the equalized value.
One village board member noted that the water system must be improved in order to support an increase in customers.
Residential customers use more water than most businesses, such as Dollar General, which, compared to a residential customer, does not use hardly any water, Levra said.
Kipp said he had been contacted by someone who had asked about the procedure for being able to locate a grocery store in Elk Mound.
The first step, he said, would be to develop a business plan.
Village board members noted that Marshfield Clinic would like to sell the clinic building but that because of the Tax Increment Finance District, the building cannot be sold for another three years, although it could be opened and operated as a clinic again.
Several people have donated historical items to the village, Stamm said.
Some of those items, like signs from businesses located in the village in the past, are on display in the community center, he said.
One particular trove of items is related to pictures included in a history book about Elk Mound. There were many more pictures than could be used in the book, and now the question is, what to do with the photographs, Stamm said.
Eleanor Brewer scanned the photographs, so those can be put on a flash drive and perhaps can be put on the village’s website, he said.
But the problem is how and where to store the original photos, Stamm said.
The issue of where to store historical items related to Elk Mound will be put on the agenda for the Community Center committee. The committee will make a recommendation to the village board, and then the village board can decide whether to approve the committee’s recommendation, he said.
In other business, the Elk Mound Village Board:
• Approved resolution 22-2, Village of Elk Mound ATV/UTV routes. At the October 3 meeting, the village board approved opening all streets to ATV/UTV traffic, with the exception of U.S. Highway 12 East after the speed limit increases to 40 miles per house, Highway 12 west after the speed limit increases to 40 miles per hour, and North Holley Avenue after the speed limit increases to 55 mph. State law allows municipalities to regulate ATV/UTV traffic on roads and streets where the speed limit is 35 mph or less.
• Approved resolution 22-3, Village of Elk Mound snowmobile routes. At the October 3 meeting, the village board approved opening Division Street and University Street as snowmobile routes.
• Approved a policy for regulated and uncontrolled or accidental water usage. In cases where there is uncontrolled or accidental water usage (such as a garden hose that is leaking), the issue will not have to come before the village board if there is a policy, Levra noted.
• Approved adjusting the sewer bill for Humphrey Gilbert, 200 University Street. The credit will be calculated by figuring out a water usage average over the past six months.
• Approved parking restriction signs for the Elk Mound fire department parking lot. The plan is to contact the owner of the post office building for approval to put up “no parking” signs. If approval cannot be obtained from the building owner, then the “no parking” signs will be up on the Highway 12 right-of-way.
• Approved a bartender operator’s license for Megan Smith, Elk Mound Travel Stop.