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Hobart approves purchase of interceptor sewer capacity

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

HOBART – As part of an estimated $3.25 million upgrade by the Green Bay Metropolitan Sewerage District (GBMSD) of an interceptor line shared by Hobart, the village board voted Aug. 4 to permanently own Hobart’s capacity, rather than lease it as has been done under a 2002 agreement.

Public Works Director Jerry Lancelle said the sewer system needed a general upgrade which will also provide an increase in capacity for Hobart.

“Before this (new) agreement, we were leasing spare capacity,” Lancelle said. “Here, we’re directly purchasing that capacity of the line.”

The latest agreement involving the Dutchman Creek interceptor rehabilitation-relay states the GBMSD “agrees to use reasonable efforts to complete construction on or before June 1, 2021, and pursue the construction with reasonable diligence.”

To pay Hobart’s $1 million balance at 3.2 percent interest, Village Administrator Aaron Kramer said the village agreed to make 20 annual payments of $66,419, beginning March 1, 2021, but there would be no penalties for pre-payment of the principal.

Because Hobart’s growth initially was “wildly overestimated” in determining its share of capacity with the upgrade, Kramer said Robert E. Lee & Associates worked with the GBMSD to scale back the village’s allocation.

“As part of the (new) agreement, we did ask that the 2002 lease, which we’re operating on, would be extinguished upon the signing of this new deal,” he said.

Kramer said the board will be presented with options in September as to whether to raise sewer rates in Hobart.

“Right now, if I had to look you in the eye and say, ‘You’re going to have to raise rates because of this,’ I wouldn’t do that,” he said. “The utility has made a dramatic turnaround from three years ago, when you were $250,000 in the hole, and I think last year (you were) close to $300,000 in the bank.”

Kramer said the board could decide not to raise rates and operate with a tight budget the next couple of years, knowing interceptor charges from previous leases will be ending, or build up some cash with an increase to pay for future improvements without borrowing.

Public Works Director Jerry Lancelle wears a mask while speaking Tuesday, Aug. 4, during the Hobart village board meeting.

“I’m not saying you have to raise the rates because of this agreement,” he said.

Lancelle said the village currently is sitting in fairly good shape with its sewer utility maintenance program.

“Most of our motors, all of our pumps, our control systems have all been upgraded, with the oldest one being, as I recall, six or seven years ago,” he said.

Kramer said it may be difficult for Hobart residents to understand the village will be paying around $1 million to upgrade a sewer interceptor line not in Hobart’s municipal boundaries running through Ashwaubenon.

“I know $1 million is hard to swallow, but I can assure you if we didn’t reach this agreement… (the GBMSD is) going to get us through the lease – we were leasing the capacity,” he said. “One way or another, the costs are going to be passed on.”

Buried power line

In other action, the board approved spending $81,000 to have Wisconsin Public Service bury about 1,180 feet of a three-phase overhead electrical line along North Overland Road, with funds to come from the State Highway 29/County VV interchange escrow account.

Lancelle said WPS needs to relocate the line because of Overland Road being rebuilt from Centennial Center Boulevard to the new Centerline Drive.

“It’s something we’ve done on all the other sections of Centerline, Centennial Center Boulevard,” he said. “Everything is underground at this time. I think to go with the feel or looks of the area up there, it would benefit the village to put it in the ground at this time.”

WPS informed the village it typically covers the cost to relocate an electrical line if it will be placed overhead, but the local municipality has the option to place the line underground, if it is willing to pick up the added cost.

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