Shawano sewer rates to go up 14% in April

Council approves new rates, which come after city deregulated from Public Service Commission
Lee Pulaski
City Editor

The city of Shawano’s sewer system has been deregulated from the Wisconsin Public Service Commission — one of the last municipalities to do so — and on March 8, the Shawano Common Council set its own rates, which will take effect April 1.

The new rates are expected to see a 14% increase across the board, according to finance director Greg Smith, with the average home to see an increase of $4.47. Homes can expect a base rate of $11, while commercial businesses and multi-family homes start at $14.30, industrial facilities start at $18.30, and public authorities’ base rate is $23.10. The usage rate will be $6.40 per 1,000 gallons.

“Keep in mind that some of these rates were done in 2015,” Smith said, clarifying it’s been some time since sewer fees were increased. “Your commercial and industrial will see a bigger uptick because they process more volume.”

The deregulation took effect mid-January, according to Smith.

The base rate is lower than in other cities Shawano officials assessed. In Clintonville, the starting base rate for residential was $17, while the city of Waupaca’s base rate starts at $24.21. Their usage rates are lower, though, with $3.69 per 1,000 gallons for Waupaca, while Clintonville assesses $4.40 per 1,000 gallons for the first 10,000 gallons and then decreases the rate to $3.30 once usage exceeds 100,000 gallons.

City Administrator Eddie Sheppard said Shawano’s rates have fallen under the same structure as the electric rates assessed by Shawano Municipal Utilities. He said it would not have been more advantageous to residents to keep it under the same system.

“When we were applying the rates under our current structure, some of our clients were going to see increases of 50% or more,” Sheppard said. “We were able to adjust the rates so that the base meter charge would increase, but it would be a lot less of an increase on the larger-meter customers and putting more of the charge back onto the user, based on how much water. That’s a structure that has worked for Shawano in the past, and it gives us a lot of flexibility on a yearly basis moving forward to adjust those things as our capital costs happen.”