Meter Increase for Fire Protection in Effect as of July 1

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MTT News's picture
Michelle Phillips

MIDDLETON–A change in the way public fire protection fees are collected went into effect on July 1. The City of Middleton will now place a fee on water meters based on the size of the meter. The fee had previously been a part of property taxes. 

State imposed tax levy limits for cities in Wisconsin have caused municipalities to come up with new ways to collect the tax, which is regulated by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC), and required for all cities, villages and towns. The amount collected through property tax in Middleton was approximately $485,000 per year.

Statewide about 60 percent of municipalities still use the tax levy system, according to the PSC. Cities around Dane County have now switched to the water meter system for fire protection fees.

The public fire protection charge covers the cost of fire-fighting and extra capacity needed in the system to provide enough water to fight a fire within the water utility district. Costs include a portion of wells, pumps, storage facilities, water mains, hydrants, and an estimated quantity of water used for this purpose. The money is not used to fund the Middleton Fire District, but rather the Middleton Water Utility’s ability to provide water during a fire. 

A fact sheet sent out by the city stated: Due to budget constraints, state-imposed property tax levy limits, and reductions in state aids, the City can no longer afford to subsidize the Water Utility through the use of general property taxes. Utility users/customers will now have to pay for a service that was previously subsidized by only Middleton property taxpayers.

Charges are per meter, not per property, and each meter on the property will incur the charge. Extra or special meters used for irrigation purposes only in addition to a meter for domestic use will not receive the charge unless the meter is one-inch or larger. The charge also applies to tax exempt properties such as churches and schools. 

The quarterly water utility bill sent out in October will be the first to show the fee. (See chart for charges)

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