County board to consider $11 fees Wednesday
By Melanie Boyung
Special to the Daily News
WEST BEND — While it may just be procedural, the Washington County Board this week will look once more at $11 special assessments for properties with private on-site wastewater treatment systems.
Private treatment systems, POWTS, are well and septic systems used by properties that are not hooked up to municipal water and sewer systems. According to county information, there are an estimated 20,313 properties in Washington County that have a POWTS.
Throughout the summer this year, the county considered implementing the $11 special assessment to help balance the budget. After several months of consideration, County Administrator Joshua Schoemann recommended the county not implement the fee, after high amounts of public feedback against the assessment.
“I will be recommending that the County Board vote no … Simply put, an $11 fee is not worth tearing apart Washington County,” Schoemann said in August.
The County Board will be looking at the matter once more on Wednesday, during its regular meeting at 6 p.m.
According to county documents included in the meeting agenda packet, while Schoemann’s recommendation was that the board vote “no” on the motion, it must be made in written form prior to the vote.
While Schoemann concluded there would be better proposals to increase county funding, the $11 fee was designed to help balance county budget initiatives. The county monitors POWTS under a state mandate; while the state requires counties to keep an inventory of the systems and the county to send notices for the systems to be inspected, it also allows for counties to charge fees, if they choose.
Washington County does not charge such fees, but was looking at them to fund the monitoring program. According to a county report in June, 99.5 percent of the county properties with POWTS would have been charged an $11 fee for one POWTS, though there are 103 properties in the counties records that have multiple POWTS and would have been charged between $22 and $66.
The fees would have raised $225,159 in total to cover the county’s program costs. The report projected the annual program costs at $227,527. The County Board would have to vote no to the resolution in order to follow Schoemann’s recommendation not to implement the special charge, or they could approve the resolution to implement it.