Village Taxes Could More Than Double at Height of Sewer Plan

Village officials are considering what level of sewer protection to move forward with, and whether they will create a storm water utility to help pay for it.

Residents' tax bills could more than double over time to pay for a proposed nine-figure sewer repair plan.

Last month, village officials were presented with three levels of sewer upgrades ranging in cost from . Village officials plan to phase in that work over the course of a 10-year capital improvement plan.

Using the least-expensive option, which would protect homes from 3.8 inches of rain in a 24-hour period, the village's financial consultant calculated what the household tax impact would be if the village issued $106 million in general obligation bonds over the course of 10 years.

The owner of a $300,000 house would gradually see their tax bill rise year after year, peaking out at a $426 increase in the ninth year and then slowly declining in following years.

Village taxes would raise by the following amounts each year per $1,000 of assessed value:

Year Tax rate
Year Tax rate
2012 0.81
2028 1.64 2013 0.84
2029 1.58 2014 1.02
2030 1.49 2015 1.23
2031 1.33 2016 1.55
2032 1.19 2017 1.65
2033 1.18 2018 1.81
2034 0.93 2019 1.98
2035 0.73 2020 2.12
2036 0.66 2021 2.23
2037 0.56 2022 2.19
2038 0.41 2023 2.21
2039 0.30 2024 2.14
2040 0.20 2025 1.99
2041 0.13 2026 1.90
2042 0.02 2027 1.75


Also keep in mind:

  • Sewer and water rates would double in approximately 15 years.
  • The preliminary tax increases would only cover the cost of the capital improvement plan — not any other increases in the overall village budget, or tax increases by other governmental entities serving Whitefish Bay.

While the village government is restricted from raising the tax levy any higher than the value of any net new construction, the state statutes also exempt principal and interest on general obligation debt from levy limit requirements.

The per-household tax impact could be reduced if the Village Board decides to charge user fees through a potential storm water utility. In addition to charging homeowners, a storm water utility would also charge non-profit entities — like schools, churches and community organizations — that do not pay taxes.

"What this will come down to is the Village Board having to balance the fundamental needs of the community with what you are comfortable with in realtionship to the cost and how those impacts will be distributed to the citizens," said Michael Harrigan of Ehlers and Associates.

Ehlers and Associates has not yet calculated the impact of the more expensive sewer repair plans presented to the board. Village Manager Patrick DeGrave said these preliminary numbers were presented to the board as a starting point for considering the level of sewer protection to move forward with.

"If the board feels comfortable that you can do this and more, we’ll run those numbers," he said.

What's next

Trustees will discuss this issue again, specifically how much of a tax hike is palatable and whether costs should be spread out through a storm water utility – at a public meeting on June 25 at 6 p.m.

dills June 06, 2012 at 02:23 PM
When you elect Lauri Rollins to the Village Baord, what do you expect? She worked for MMSD and is well versed on the problem. BUT, has she come up with a plan to SAVE taxpayers money. NO, just shift the burden to the taxpayer. The problem is that combined sewers don't work. The sewers should be 'uncombined' so when big rains come again, we can dump stormwater into Lake Michigan, not sewage and storm water. And the backup won't happen, because dumping stormwater into Lake Michigan isn't a public health problem like human waste. So, get this public official to find a way to solve the problem. It starts by getting MMSD to acknowledge that the Deep Tunnel project doesn't work. Don't let the village of Whitefish Bay tell all of you home owners that sewer laterals from your home have leaks and are adding too much to the the stormwater system. Think! Does an approximately 1 foot pipe in your 40-50 foot wide lot really seep thousands of gallons of water into the stormwater collection. Nope. The Village will try to make all homeowners have their laterals checked, but never take a position that the Village is holding MMSD accountable for sewer backups when they fail to solve the underlying problem which is combined sewers!
Bob McBride June 06, 2012 at 02:45 PM
The project does involve separating the storm and sanitary systems. The reason being that when you have a storm of the magnitude of the ones we had in July of 2010, the sanitary system takes on some of the storm water, forcing sewage into people's basements. That's the primary benefit to the homeowner of separating the two. In order to route all storm water into Lake Michigan, you'd have to get permission from the DNR and EPA (I think) to do that, and given the concerns and regulations related to run-off, that's not likely to happen (enter the Sierra Club and any other organization that can devote dollars to fighting that option as well). It's going to be a tough enough job coordinating the agencies and localities involved in modifying the outlet into the Milwaukee River. MMSD is part of the problem in that they limit the amount of down flow of sanitary waste to their system. Hence the Fairmount project of that same time period (and frankly one of the contributors to the flooding problem during that period of time). As for Lauri, she's been good on some other issues (specifically bring attention to a lack of following best practices when it comes to the Villages contracting and procuring procedures), but from what I've seen of her with this issue she seems to be taking avoiding the appearances of conflict of interest a bit too far. Again, just my opinion on that. The bulk of the cost is replacing the outdated sewer pipes and all that's involved in that.
tom sherman June 07, 2012 at 01:12 AM
i know little about how the sewer system works. in the big flood i got about an inch of water in basement. i noted at the time that half to 70% of the rainwater overflowed my gutters. what i have since done was cut a hole half way up the length of each of my 2 gutters and bolted a plate to it. when the next big storm comes i will unbolt this plate and hook up a second downspout to each gutter 2bling capacity. estimated diy cost $50. now come the next flood we will see perhaps if this alone does not fix my flooding problem. is this not much cheaper than any village solution ? since everyones gutters are about the same could this not be a solution for others & not just me? if i could design the sewer system from ground zero i would have say 80% fewer pipes & make extensive use of holding tanks in ones house to be moved to manholes in the system by the homeowner, and/or village pickup and/or composed on ones property and/or use some laterals. this system is so stupid not just because of the cost but the constant disruptions, noise etc it causes the village when it is being built or improved. there are plenty better solution than just building more piping and doing more digging why are people allowed to purchase and use the chemicals that they now do is beyond me. whiy is not chlorine , amonia and etc banned? the sanitary system is dumb because the storm water system still pollutes the lake with lawn & car pollutants. lawns should be banned
tom sherman November 16, 2012 at 10:38 PM
i tom sherman want to modify my comment.. i mentioned using a second dowspout under a hole i put in the gutter to stop overflow. one does not even need a downspount. all one has to do is to layout a sloping cardboard "ramp" on the ground as the water hits it by falling through the air. this only need be done for the big storm every say 5 years. then the cardboard can be thrown out.


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