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PSC OKs water rate increase
Workers put some finishing touches on the garage attached to the water utility and waste department Friday, Feb. 28. Employees are expected to be able to move into the facilities by March 17. The total cost of the project is estimated to be about $25 million. (Times photo: Tom Holm)
MONROE - Monroe residential water customers will see a 17 percent rate increase on their water bills after the Wisconsin Public Service Commission Thursday authorized the utility's first rate increase since 2010.

Average residential customers currently paying $49.27 quarterly for 11,220 gallons of water will pay $57.84 for the same amount of water when the new rates take effect.

The amount includes the public fire protection charge the utility collects for the city.

The PSC also increased the quarterly meter charge for residential customers to $15.30 from $12.

Even with the new rates, Monroe stays below the state average for water costs charged by similarly sized utilities, according to the PSC rate order.

The utility's net income was projected to shrink to $119,777, and its rate of return on its infrastructure investment to 1.84 percent, without the rate increase.

When the rate application was filed in August, the utility projected 2013's total expenses, including taxes and depreciation, of $1.476 million against revenue of $1.595 million.

The new rates are projected to increase annual revenue by $248,260 and the rate of return to 5.25 percent, the same percentage authorized in the 2010 rate case.

Maintenance and repairs to wells, transmission and distribution lines lead the increase in expenses since 2009. Other increases were incurred in energy costs, meter expense and outside services.

Employee pension and benefits declined from $177,152 in 2009, bottoming out at $72,202 in 2011 and estimated at $124,951 last year, according to the rate application.

Administrative and general salaries were $85,551 in 2009 and estimated at $95,000 last year, according to the application.

Renee Weaver, utilities budget and finance manager, said implementing the rate increase would be up to the city council, which will consider a resolution affirming PSC's final decision Tuesday, March 4.