JANESVILLE, Wis. - Water bills in the city of Janesville will rise an average of 53% starting around the new year, according to the city's finance director, Max Gagin.
Gagin said the tax increase will raise $3.5 million for the city, which will use the money to pay for the replacement of aging water mains throughout town.
Prior to the tax increase, the city had been taking loans to pay for the water main replacements.
"Ultimately we decided we wanted to cash finance our program so that the residents of this community don't have to pay interest costs," Gagin said.
Gagin says while some might be opposed to higher water bills, the average $8 per month increase will save consumers money in the long run.
"The cost of doing that and being able to afford it by borrowing funds is becoming so much that it makes sense for the city and the rate payers to pay for it with cash," he said.
Water Utility Superintendent Craig Thiesenhusen said the mains the city needs to replace are from the World War II era. Some have broken and been repaired dozens of times already.
"A lot of people take for granted that it's buried and you don't see it," he said. "But what they do see is when they open their tap, they have water. When they open their tap, they have clean water, drinkable water."
Thiesenhusen said the $3.5 million pays for the worst 1% of mains to be replaced each year.
"We have to pare it down and say, what are the worst ones out there that are causing the most service interruptions? That's what we have to tackle first," he said.
"We understand there are some short term pains from a monthly budgeting perspective," Gagin said. "However what I think the community should realize is there's long-term benefits, as well."