Green Bay, Wis., residents will pay more on their water bills in 2020 after the city opted to fund street tree maintenance through its storm water utility
Green Bay, Wis., residents will pay more on their water bills in 2020 after the city opted to fund street tree maintenance through its storm water utility.
The storm water costs will jump approximately $26 for the average homeowner, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette. The utility's rate is set at $118.05 annually, which is up from $92.12 this year.
The charge will appear on residents' quarterly water bills, but is separate from water and sewer costs billed by the water utility.
Half of the increase stems from the city's decision to pay for nearly $1.2 million in forestry services through the storm water utility instead of the general fund, reported the Green Bay Press Gazette. The approved budget also includes a 3.3% increase on the property tax rate.
The change has received backlash from several council members, however.
Alderman Brian Johnson, one of the budget's five opponents, said the move misled residents about how much they will pay for city services in 2020. "It's not having an honest discussion with the people," said Johnson.
Supporters of the budget assert it is a practical way to reduce pressure on the tax levy, particularly because the street trees divert storm water away from sewers.
"I appreciate where people are coming from, but I felt like we had a nice open and transparent conversation about this policy shift," said Mayor Eric Genrich.
Public Works Director Steve Grenier noted that the utility rate would have increased regardless, as the department faces additional expenses in its $9.3 million storm water management budget. The annual rate has jumped 65% over the past four years, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette.