Citizens Pay More For Sewer, EMS

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MTT News Desk's picture
Matt Geiger
Middleton is a customer of the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District.

The arrival of the New Year ushered in fee and rate increases for most local citizens. Higher sanitary sewer rates and EMS fees, which went into effect January 1, were approved by the Middleton Common Council in December.

The Common Council first changed its general ordinances to include higher rates for most sewer customers. For many, the rates are up between five and eight percent.

Quarterly service charges are dependent on meter size. Those with a 5/8” meter saw charges rise from $18.51 to $19.55, with similar increases for sizes all the way up to 6”, for which the rate went from $336.53 to $355.39. Those with meters that are 8, 10 or 12 inches will see their quarterly service charges remain flat.

The sanitary sewer volume charge (per 100 gallons) increased from $0.218 to $0.237 for all customers.

The council also revised the Emergency Medical Services fee schedule. Director of the Middleton Emergency Medical Services Steve Wunsch in his budget proposal last year concluded that accelerating costs for salaries, benefits, fuel, and other services required an increase in the amount charged to those who are treated by local paramedics.

The patient care base rate for transit went from $1,050 in 2012 to $1,110 in 2013. The fee per mile grew from $18.50 to $19. The amount for on-scene assessment and care, without transport, rose from $350 to $365.

The amount for disposable medical supplies and drugs remained flat, with the city charging the cost plus 50 percent.

District 2 alderman Gurdip Brar was the only council member to oppose both the sewer and EMS increases. Brar contended the changes will be onerous for those already struggling to pay their bills.

Others on the council said the EMS fees are linked directly to the cost of providing service, and the sewer increases are essentially, though not technically, mandated by the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD).

“This is five times the rate of inflation,” Brar said of some of the sewer rate increases.

District 3 alderwoman JoAnna Richard said she understood Brar’s trepidation over the hikes, but she added that the city, as a customer of MMSD, has little power to control sewer rates. “It’s a utility that’s charging us, that we have to pay,” she said.

Shawn Stauske, the City of Middleton’s director of public works, said the city’s sewer utility rates are technically separate from the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) decision to raise charges, but the two are linked.

“Middleton is a customer of MMSD,” said Stauske. “Like anybody, they establish a budget based on their costs to build and maintain sewer interceptors, pump stations and the treatment plant.”

“Their 2013 budget required increased customer charges,” Stauske continued.  

Had the city not passed on to its citizens MMSD’s higher charges, Middleton would likely have had to pay the Sewerage District out of its levy, which also ultimately comes out of the pockets of taxpayers.

District 7 alderman Hans Hilbert said the fact that fees and taxes are the city’s two primary funding sources made Brar’s opposition hypocritical in light of the District 2 alderman’s earlier criticism of the city’s tax increases. Hilbert told Brar, who spoke against the mill rate increase contained in the 2013 budget and, as noted above, voted against sewer and EMS increases for the same year, to come up with a viable funding source rather than simply voting nay.



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