On April 7 the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) approved a water rate increase for Lake Mills Light & Water (LML&W). However, the utility has decided to delay implementation of the rate change until July.
The overall rate increase of 17.18 percent over the water utility’s current rate was approved after a lengthy review and public hearing by the PSCW. Under the new rates the water bill for an average residential customer using 3,000 gallons of water per month will increase about $4 per month, not including the public fire protection charge. When the public fire protection charge is included residential bills will increase about $5.86 per month.
The public fire protection covers the cost of water for fighting fires and the extra capacity built into the system necessary to rapidly deliver a large volume of water to a fire anywhere within the city's water service area.
“Requesting and implementing a rate increase is a difficult decision under any conditions,” according to Paul Hermanson, Director of Public Works. “Given the current health and financial conditions we’re all facing this isn’t the time to implement any cost increases to our customers.”
Once approved, the PSCW allow utilities 90 days to implement the rate increase. “We’re going to take the entire 90 days to delay implementation,” Hermanson said. The new rates will become effective with water used beginning in July.
The utility needs increased revenue to maintain service and respond to various regulatory requirements. The rate increase is driven by two main expenditures: 1) unexpected costs to the utility in response to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) requirement to replace lead service lines, and 2) replacement of old water lines as part of the S. Main Street and Mulberry Street reconstruction projects.
LML&W originally requested an increase of eight percent, according to Hermanson. When the PSCW reviewed the proposed adjustment they determined the need to generate additional revenue.