Janesville wastewater rates will increase by 6.9 percent in January 2019, and average residents will see a $4.20 increase in their quarterly bills.
The rate hike will generate an estimated $445,300 in additional revenue for wastewater utility maintenance and operating expenses. The city council approved the increase Monday night by a vote of 6-1, with Jens Jorgensen in opposition.
While the city doesn’t normally replace its wastewater mains, the extra revenue will pay for regular cleaning and liners that keep the pipes functioning properly, Utility Director Dave Botts said. The utility does not have a list of specific projects it intends to undertake.
This rate increase is unrelated to a summer discussion about raising the water rates. City staff recommended in July a possible water rate increase of 25 percent to pay for maintenance and reduce the water utility’s debt.
The city is preparing to apply with the state Public Service Commission for a water rate increase. Any water rate adjustment would not happen until late 2019 at the earliest, Botts said.
The water utility provides water to customers; the wastewater utility disposes of it. The joint water and wastewater bill will increase to a quarterly average of $155.36 with the wastewater rate change.
Janesville’s typical residential bill is more than $40 cheaper than its peer-city average. It’s less than half of Fond du Lac’s average, which is the most expensive among 14 communities of similar population, according to a city memorandum.
The $4.20 increase for the average Janesville resident is a 4.7 percent raise, but different rates for commercial, industrial and public meters drive the city’s overall wastewater increase to 6.9 percent.
Janesville usually reviews its wastewater rates every two years, so the 6.9 percent climb covers 2019 and 2020. Material and labor costs often rise by about 3 percent annually, meaning Monday’s approval is “the cost of doing business,” Botts said.