Suamico board backs creation of NEW Water Municipal Committee
By Kevin Boneske
SUAMICO – In an effort for the village to have more of a voice on NEW Water’s Board of Commissioners, the Suamico village board approved a resolution Monday, Feb. 15, supporting the creation of an NEW Water Municipal Committee.
Village Administrator Alex Kaker, whom the board also approved serving as Suamico’s representative on the committee, said he looked into the how the village could get some municipal representation on NEW Water’s Board of Commissioners since Suamico’s board members heard a presentation from NEW Water in early December.
The village board expressed its displeasure over rising sewer costs, which this year includes Suamico’s budgeted sewer charges from NEW Water increasing by about 14 percent ($121,929) to $992,265.
Because NEW Water’s five-member Board of Commissioners is appointed by the Brown County Board of Supervisors, with the county executive nominating the Board of Commissioners, Kaker said a person would have to go through that process to serve on NEW Water’s board.
Kaker said NEW Water currently has 15 municipal customers, which include cities, villages, towns and sanitary districts, with more than 80 percent of NEW Water’s revenue coming from municipalities, even though they have no direct representation on NEW Water’s board.
“I think that’s the impetus as to why we’re looking into doing something,” he said. “It’s because we have over 80 percent of the revenue, yet there’s no direct representation.”
After having multiple discussions with other municipalities served by NEW Water and also talking with County Executive Troy Streckenbach, Kaker said he believes a concept agreeable to all parties would be to have each municipal customer’s governing body appoint someone to a committee responsible for recruiting and vetting someone to be nominated to the Board of Commissioners when the next term is up in the fourth quarter of 2021.
“This would potentially create a scenario where one of the five NEW Water Board of Commissioners will be a representative of the municipalities, which is something that we currently do not have,” he said.
With the terms on the Board of Commissioners being for five years, Kaker said the committee would go through the selection process once every five years.
“The municipal committee could meet quarterly, in perpetuity, to meet with the commissioner, talk about what’s going on with NEW Water, talk about budgets, etc.,” he said.
Ideally, Kaker said every municipal customer of NEW Water would join the committee to be a member of it.
“We understand that not maybe everyone would be interested,” he said. “I’ve talked about that issue with County Executive Streckenbach. He said that wouldn’t be a disqualifier. He would prefer to see as many municipalities as possible. It would hold more weight, the more municipalities that are included on this, but it’s not a necessity that all 15 are a part of this (committee).”
Kaker said the committee could also recommend a couple of names to nominate for NEW Water’s Board of Commissioners.
“If we sent a couple names to County Executive Streckenbach, he would have some options,” he said. “That’s something that we have to talk about at a committee level. Do we want to send just one person, or do we want to have a list that we all believe are qualified to be on (the Board of Commissioners)?”
Trustee Dan Roddan said the committee will provide the village an opportunity to have representation on NEW Water’s board.
“I think what’s going to happen with your county supervisors, they’re going to follow suit,” he said. “Because when you have all these municipalities in agreement as part of this committee, they’re really representing each of their villages, and those (county) representatives are representatives of those villages as well. I think you would have pretty solid buy-in from the supervisors from each one of these communities. I know that (County Supervisor) Tom (Lund) is on board.”