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Great Lakes Article:

Shift of capital cost of pipeline sought

By Peter Rebhahn
Green Bay Press Gazette

What’s next

The Central Brown County Water Authority will discuss a proposal to shift the capital costs of a drinking water pipeline to Lake Michigan from water bills to property taxes at its next regular meeting, scheduled for 3 p.m. Monday at the Allouez Village Hall, 1649 S. Webster Ave.

BELLEVUE — Representatives from nine Green Bay suburbs planning to build a $135-million drinking-water pipeline to Lake Michigan will recommend a change in the way the suburbs pay for the project, including a connection fee for new water customers.

“It gives the authority an option for paying for water we didn’t have before,” said Len Teresinski, town of Hobart chairman and head of a subcommittee charged with examining a proposal to allocate the capital costs of the pipeline to property tax roles.

The authority is the Central Brown County Water Authority — the Green Bay suburbs of Allouez, Ashwaubenon, Bellevue, De Pere, Hobart, Howard, Lawrence, Ledgeview and Scott. The suburbs voted in 1999 to build the pipeline and related water system to replace a dwindling supply of low-quality ground water.

The new system would be sized to meet the needs of the nine communities in the year 2030. At issue is how to bill growing communities for system capacity they won’t use until population growth catches up.

The new plan would allocate some system costs to communities based upon their proportion of the total equalized property value in all authority communities. The proposed connection fee for new development would average about $700 for a single-family home. The fee could be incorporated into building permits, Teresinski said.

The suburbs thought they had settled the payback issue in 2000 with a compromise plan. That plan employed a payback formula that would have charged communities 75 percent according to water they use, and 25 percent according to the capacity built into the system for their long-term needs.

The 2000 compromise placated all nine member communities without really pleasing any, Teresinski said. Joe Linssen is Ledgeview’s water authority representative and also a member of the subcommittee working on the alternative payback plan. He voted against the 75-25 plan adopted in 2000, and said Wednesday he supported the new plan.

“I think it’s more related to actual (water) usage,” Linssen said.

Under the new payback plan communities would buy a portion of overall system capacity each year and pay an added surcharge if they exceed their allocation. The plan is the brainchild of Tim Woodworth, who’s accounting manager for the Green Bay Metropolitan Sewerage District and a member of Ashwaubenon’s Water Advisory Committee.

Woodworth said the new plan takes some of the inequality out of the 75-25 formula. “You’ve still got the largest communities paying the most,” Woodworth said. “The ones using the pipeline are the ones paying for it.”

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