Sturtevant trustees Tuesday will discuss a tentative agreement between the village and the Racine Water and Wastewater Utility over water connection fees, commonly referred to as REC fees.
REC fees are based on how much water a typical single-family residence uses in a year, about 72,000 gallons. For commercial and industrial developments, a complicated formula estimates how much water they will use in a year, and the utility charges that year up front.
The idea is that new growth pays for growth – new infrastructure – to keep expenses down for existing customers, which made sense 10 years ago when the landmark water and sewer agreement between the communities was signed. Since then, however, Sturtevant trustees pointed out at a meeting last month, the economy has slowed considerably and REC fees are driving businesses away.
Current fees run $3,320 per REC. Utility management wants to raise the fee by $130 to $3,450, but Sturtevant officials were already concerned about REC fees driving development – and jobs – away. They drafted a letter to the utility – with the support of Mount Pleasant officials – outlining their objections.
But during a meeting Friday, leaders from both villages and the utility agreed to the increase as proposed as long as Utility Manager Keith Haas and his staff will “explore the possibility of capping REC fees at some maximum amount for large water users,” according to a story in The Journal Times.
A consultant will examine the issue and make some recommendations, the story continues.
Haas told the newspaper that he isn’t interested in hampering development or the possibility of new jobs in the region.
“We don’t want to discourage somebody and have them go to Kenosha, Oak Creek or Somers,” he is quoted as saying.
Racine County Eye talked to Sturtevant Trustee Chris Wright, chair of the Stormwater Committee, over the weekend. While he said he couldn’t comment on the outcome of the meeting because he hadn’t been updated, he said he remains concerned about how fees are assessed for potential new commercial development.
“(The REC fee) may have been a good idea when it was instituted. However, times have changed and municipalities and utilities need to make sure they are not letting past decisions and what we’ve always done prohibit future growth,” he wrote in a message. “It is good to review the REC fee but not just to raise it. We need to find a way to fund growth in the water system without that very method preventing growth itself.”
Sturtevant trustees participate in the regularly scheduled continual committee meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Village Hall, 2801 89th Street. Call (262) 886-7200.