Oak Creek residents' fees to change soon

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Oak Creek residents will soon be saving money on trash pick-up, but they also could be spending more on water and sewer service in the future.

The Oak Creek Town Board recently approved new lower rates for trash service. By choosing a new trash company, the town was able to decrease those rates to $14.50 a month for residents and $11.80 for seniors, compared with the $17.75 that is currently charged.

But because the town is hoping to renovate its wastewater treatment plant, as required by a state order, its charges for sewer rates could increase.

At an earlier meeting, the town approved switching to Old West Sanitation from Waste Management, because Old West Sanitation gave the town a lower bid for trash service.

Also important was that Old West Sanitation offered to provide free curbside recycling service for any resident who wants it.

"This is really exciting," Mayor Kathy "Cargo" Rodeman said at the Nov. 18 meeting. "Anybody who wants it gets curbside recycling for the same cost."

Rodeman said it was hard to switch, as Waste Management had provided exceptional service, but that a lower cost could not be ignored.

The trash service will change from Waste Management to Old West on Thanksgiving. Waste Management will pick up trash and its trash cans, then Old West will drop off its new trashcans that day. Old West will pick up trash on Tuesdays.

At the same meeting during which the Town Board trustees approved the lower trash rates, they also discussed the possibility of increased sewer rates.

Because of the town's antiquated wastewater treatment plant, residents could see increases in that service in the coming months. Discussions about increasing those rates likely won't take place until early January.

Oak Creek residents currently pay $27 a month for water and $28 for sewer, with businesses paying more depending on what sort of operation they have.

Oak Creek recently received a $500,000 grant from the Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Program to renovate the plant, and is hoping to fund the remaining cost of the $1 million project with a grant and loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The project will add a new system to control ammonia effluent limits and disinfection. Those improvements will prevent health violations because of elevated ammonia, town officials have said.

The town also is considering installing water meters at local businesses to start reading water usage and eventually determine a better rate for water.

The town does not have water meters now, so rates for residents and businesses are not based on water usage.

There also have been complaints from business owners who feel the rates charged now are unfair, Rodeman said.

"We have got to start somewhere," Rodeman said about installing water meters.

Rodeman suggested the town might purchase the meters for the businesses, and then make business owners financially responsible for installing them.

"We kind of have to share that load," Rodeman said.

The town's discussions on water meters and water and sewer rates will continue in the coming months.

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