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Green Bay council approves storm water rate increase

By Heather Graves

GREEN BAY – The Green Bay city council approved an increase to the 2020 storm water rate in a 7-5 vote at its meeting Tuesday, Nov. 19.

Those in favor said the increase was needed to support the budget approved earlier this month, which included transferring the $1.1 million forestry budget to the storm water utility.

“We did this at our budget meeting and if we don’t do this now, we are going to have a more-than-a-million-dollar size hole in our budget,” said District 7 Alder Randy Scannell.

All five opposed votes – Alders Andy Nicolson, Jesse Burnette, Chris Wery, Brian Johnson and John VanderLeest – were also opposed for the 2020 budget on Nov. 5.

VanderLeest said he wasn’t in support of filling the budget through the storm water utility.

“This is not a very popular tax to begin with and when you add another $25 per year on top of what people are already paying, and I think we could have found a better way to fill the hole that’s there,” VanderLeest said.

Johnson had the same reservations with the increase.

“My principle objection to the budget really had to do with the forestry department transfer,” Johnson said. “When you talk about this as a broader policy move, I felt like that deserved some greater public discussion in and around that particular issue, and I don’t think that it got that because it was kind of hidden a little bit in the context of the budget.”

District 1 Alder Barbara Dorff said those discussions were had at the budget hearing at the committee level.

“Had everyone attended the budget hearing (at committee level) they would have been involved in a rich discussion on why this was necessary,” Dorff said. “And that occurred a week before the actual budget vote. That would have been the important place to have that discussion and that is the purpose of that hearing.”

Dorff said when the council passed the budget, it passed the revenue sources.

“That was passed on Nov. 5,” Dorff said. “The work of council is done. It was completed Nov. 5, and now here we sit again tonight talking about the same things that were voted down Nov. 5.”

With the storm water rate increase, on average, homeowners can expect to see about a $25 annual increase under the storm water charge on their water bill, or about $6.46 per quarter.

Hazardous materials emergency response vehicle

Alders unanimously approved the purchase of an E-One custom built HAZMAT emergency response vehicle for $861,373.

The city received two bids for the vehicle.

Even though it was the higher bid, staff and the finance committee recommended going with Fire Service, Inc. and the E-One model because of its specifications – including the addition of a 25-year corrosion perforation frame warranty.

Diana Ellenbecker, finance director, said half of the purchase price was bonded in 2019 with the assumption the remaining amount would be bonded in 2020.

Fire Chief David Litton said the fire department is replacing two vehicles and combining them into one.

“The vehicles being replaced, the oldest is 1991, so 28 years old and the other is around a 2001,” Litton said. “So they are just mechanically shot, and they don’t currently meet the needs of our HAZMAT team.”

Litton said the city will receive the vehicle approximately one year from when the company receives the purchase order, which is set to happen within the next couple of weeks.

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