Sister Bay Utilities Tapped

Despite objections from three residents who are former members of the village board and utilities manager Steve Jacobson, the Sister Bay Village Board voted on Aug. 19 to establish a payment in lieu of taxes (or PILOT) on the village water utility in order to decrease the existing PILOT paid by the village marina.

The PILOT plan calls for a $41,249 increase in fees to the roughly 900 customers of the water utility – or an estimated $9.66 per quarter per customer. That money would be used to reduce the $161,000 PILOT the marina pays annually to the village.

Speaking on behalf of the marina, village trustee John Clove, who also chairs the board’s Marina Committee, said the marina doesn’t mind being a cash cow for the village, but the marina is depreciating to the amount of $225,000 a year, and rates at the marina can’t go any higher.

“We don’t have any flexibility,” he said.

“It just doesn’t seem like the right way to do business,” utilities manager Steve Jacobson told the board.

Former board members Denise Bhirdo, Ken Church and Sharon Doersching voiced their concerns about the PILOT program at the meeting and said they would rather see a tax hike for everyone rather than an increase in utility rates for those plugged into the water and sewer system.

“I do not like the fact that the ratepayers would in a sense be subsidizing the marina,” said Bhirdo, who served as village president for 15 years before retiring in 2013. “You cannot rob Peter to pay Paul. That is wrong. We’d be much happier if they raised our taxes and everybody had to pay.”

With the board’s approval, the water utility PILOT program will go to the Public Service Commission (PSC), which regulates PILOT payments on public water utilities. The PSC has 120 days to review the plan. The village board anticipates the new rates will go into effect the second quarter of 2015.

The board also:

• Approved Board President Dave Lienau’s recommendation of Kathy Enquist as a village trustee, to replace Pam Abshire, who took a job in Green Bay. Enquist is the owner of Dogma Grooming Studio at Country Walk Shops. She told the board as a village business owner, she looks forward to being involved in village decision-making. She will be sworn in at the next village board meeting.

• Approved up to $45,000 for individual property service upgrades to Bay Shore Drive, on the recommendation of the Bay Shore Drive Committee.

• Changed the name of the Water, Wastewater and Stormsewer Committee to the Water, Sewer and Stormsewer Committee.

• Amended the village’s official map to allow for development east of Canterbury Lane and south of Maple Drive, south of Cherrywood Lane and west of Hwy 57.