Water faucet

The Ladysmith Municipal Water Utility has filed an application with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, requesting an estimated rate hike of about 50 percent for the average residential customer.

If granted by the PSC, the water bill for an average residential customer with a 5/8-inch or 3/4-inch meter who uses 9,000 gallons of water per quarter will increase from $63.95 to $97.17, or 52%, not including the public fire protection charge. Meters sized 5/8-inch are used in small, average and large residential homes. Multi-family residential in the city are connected though a 5/8-inch of 1-inch meter.

While municipalities may set their own sewer rates, comprehensive rate hikes like the one requested by Ladysmith must be approved by the state PSC.

The proposal calls for residential billing hikes ranging from 49.79 percent for a small user to 58.37 percent for the largest user.

The city’s application states the increase is necessary due to a 99.68 percent increase in gross plant investment and a 64.62 percent increase in operating expenses since the last water rate case was completed in 2013. In the utility’s last rate case, the PSC included construction costs for Well No. 8, a water treatment plant and a raw water main that were authorized by the Commission.

The total increase in water revenues requested is $468,750 that will result in an estimated overall rate increase of 49.53 percent over the water utility’s present revenues, comprising of a 53.32 percent increase in general service charges and a 42.03 percent increase in Public Fire Protection charges. This breaks down to $334,929 coming from general service customers and $133,821 coming from the PFP charge. 

“A typical residential customer’s bill would rise 51.95 percent, not including the PFP charge,” said Andrew Fisher, a public utility rate analyst for the PSC in a letter to Ladysmith Public Works Director Kurt Gorsegner.  

The rates authorized in the utility’s last rate case were adjusted for inflation through the Simplified Rate Case process in 2019. This type of approval can be completed without PSC approval.

A telephonic public hearing on the city rate increase application has been scheduled for 10 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 18. This virtual hearing has no physical location. This is a virtual hearing to which members of the public may attend by telephone or listen to live broadcast on-line. Scheduling questions regarding this hearing may be directed to the Public Service Commission at (608) 266-3766. 

To attend by telephone use the following — dial-in number: (872) 240-3212 (Toll)  with an access code of 903-694-349 #.

A person may testify in this proceeding without becoming a party and without attorney representation. A person may submit this testimony in only one of the following ways: 

Web Comment. Go to the Commission’s web site at http://psc.wi.gov, click on “File a Comment”. On the next page select the “File a comment” link that appears for docket number 2940-WR-104. Web comments shall be received no later than Friday, Nov. 27. 

Oral Comment. Speak over the telephone during the public session. The Administrative Law Judge may receive an oral comment from any member of the public in attendance after the close of any party and Commission staff testimony. The Administrative Law Judge will receive an oral comment by unmuting each phone connection one at a time and inquiring into the each caller’s desire to comment. 

Mail Comment. All comments submitted by U.S. Mail shall be received no later than Friday, November 27, 2020 and shall be addressed to: Attn: Docket 2940-WR-104 Comments, Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 7854, Madison, WI 53707-7854. 

The Public Service Commission intends to webcast this hearing live on the PSCW’s web site at http://psc.wi.gov under the “PSC Live Broadcast” button. 

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