Sewer regionalization partnerships have been formed in various parts of the state. The pressures that drive a community toward regionalization vary depending on the specific community. It has been formed between municipalities such as Osceola and Dresser, Eleva and Strum and Whitehall and Blair, WI. You will not see the villages of Baldwin and Hammond added to the list any time soon.
Regionalization sees public bodies cooperatively connecting their sewage collection systems. Centralized treatment for all of the public bodies can reduce costs for operation, but there can be cons. Recently the Baldwin Village board decided the cons outweighed possible pros and voted to nix the idea of combining with Hammond.
It was shared the concept was brought up during a facilities
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plan review by the WDNR. Hammond would send their wastewater to Baldwin. Benefits to doing so would be there would be more users to share the operational costs and capital costs and the environmental impact would be lessened. A large pro is the WDNR offers $2M in principal forgiveness for regionalization.
The cons included the fact that the Village of Baldwin would most likely not have 100 percent control of the treatment plant, unless Hammond gave up all control of decision-making and future upgrades. A contract would have to be formed deciding what percentage of shares each village would have. The $2M principal forgiveness is allocated proportionately to the municipalities involved and it would be hard to say what Baldwin’s portion would be as Hammond would need to install a large lift station and main to Baldwin.
Ideally, this concept should have been brought to the attention of the villages at an earlier point. Baldwin has completed a facility plan, which would now need amendment should they go forward with regionalization. Engineering plans would need to be updated as well, which is a cost.
The funding application could need submission by September 2021, which would delay bidding to spring of 2022. Trustee Lance Van Damme said, “The DNR already said that wasn’t an option for us.” Others in attendance said since this was something the DNR wanted, they would probably change their feelings.
“This is a terrible idea,” said Van Damme. He went on to say, “This is like two friends buying a car together and then figuring it out. Not a good idea.”
Representatives from the Village of Hammond were interested in discussing the option, but a presentation had not yet been brought to them.
There were capacity concerns because of projected growth in both villages in the future and concerns over a variety of costs including the lawyer’s fees to work out an agreement between the villages.
Village board members recalled a regionalization had been considered in the past between 3-5 area municipalities and had been denied quickly.
This was the case once again as a motion to deny was made by Van Damme. It was seconded by Trustee Matt Knegendorf and agreed upon unanimously by the village board.