A town, village or city may construct, acquire or lease any plant and equipment located in or outside the municipality, including interest in or lease of land, for furnishing water, light, heat or power, to the municipality or its inhabitants; may acquire a controlling portion of the stock of any corporation owning private waterworks or lighting plant and equipment; and may purchase the equity of redemption in a mortgaged or bonded waterworks or lighting system, including cases where the municipality in the franchise has reserved right to purchase. The character or duration of the franchise, permit or grant under which any public utility is operated does not affect the power to acquire the public utility under this subsection. Two or more public utilities owned by the same person or corporation, or 2 or more public utilities subject to the same lien or charge, may be acquired as a single enterprise. The board or council may agree with the owner or owners of any public utility or utilities on the value of the utility or utilities and may contract to purchase or acquire at that value, upon those terms and conditions mutually agreed upon between the board or council and the owner or owners.
A resolution, specifying the method of payment and submitting the question to a referendum, shall be adopted by a majority of all the members of the board or council at a regular meeting, after publication at least one week previous in the official paper.
The notice of the referendum shall include a general statement of the plant and equipment proposed to be constructed, acquired or leased and of the manner of payment.
Referenda under this section may not be held oftener than once a year, except that a referendum held for the acquisition, lease or construction of any of the types of property enumerated in par. (a)
does not bar the holding of one referendum in the same year for the acquisition and operation of a bus transportation system by the municipality.
The provisions of pars. (b)
do not apply to the acquisition of any plant, equipment or public utility for furnishing water service when the plant, equipment or utility is acquired by the municipality by dedication or without monetary or financial consideration. After a public utility is constructed, acquired or leased under this subsection, pars. (b)
do not apply to any subsequent construction, acquisition or lease in connection with that public utility.
A city, village or town may by action of its governing body and with a referendum vote provide, acquire, own, operate or engage in a municipal bus transportation system where no existing bus, rail or other local transportation system exists in the municipality. A city, village or town in which there exists any local transportation system by similar action and referendum vote may acquire, own, operate or engage in the operation of a municipal bus transportation system upon acquiring the local transportation system by voluntary agreement with the owners of the system, or pursuant to law, or upon securing a certificate from the department of transportation under s. 194.23
A street motor bus transportation company operating pursuant to ch. 194
shall, by acceptance of authority under that chapter, be deemed to have consented to a purchase of its property actually used and useful for the convenience of the public by the municipality in which the major part of the property is situated or operated.
A city, village or town providing or acquiring a motor bus transportation system under this section may finance the construction or purchase in any manner authorized for the construction or purchase of a public utility.
This section is not a restriction upon the authority granted to the department of natural resources by s. 144.025 (2) (r) [now s. 281.19 (5)] to order the construction of a municipal water system, but constitutes merely an alternative by which a municipality may voluntarily construct or purchase a water utility. Village of Sussex v. DNR, 68 Wis. 2d 187
, 228 N.W.2d 173
Section 66.065 [now s. 66.0803], which requires a municipality to obtain voter approval through a referendum prior to the construction or acquisition of a waterworks, does not apply when a municipality is ordered to construct a public water supply system pursuant to s. 144.025 (2) (r) [now s. 281.19 (5)]. 60 Atty. Gen. 523.
Management of municipal public utility by commission. 66.0805(1)(1)
Except as provided in sub. (6)
, the governing body of a city shall, and the governing body of a village or town may, provide for the nonpartisan management of a municipal public utility by creating a commission under this section. The board of commissioners, under the general control and supervision of the governing body, shall be responsible for the entire management of and shall supervise the operation of the utility. The governing body shall exercise general control and supervision of the commission by enacting ordinances governing the commission's operation. The board shall consist of 3, 5 or 7 commissioners.
The commissioners shall be elected by the governing body for a term, beginning on the first day of October, of as many years as there are commissioners, except that the terms of the commissioners first elected shall expire successively one each year on each succeeding first day of October.
The commission shall choose a president and a secretary from its membership. The commission may appoint and establish the compensation of a manager. The commission may command the services of the city, village or town engineer and may employ and fix the compensation of subordinates as necessary. The commission may make rules for its proceedings and for the government of the department. The commission shall keep books of account, in the manner and form prescribed by the department of transportation or public service commission, which shall be open to the public.
The governing body of the city, village or town may provide that departmental expenditures be audited by the commission, and if approved by the president and secretary of the commission, be paid by the city, village or town clerk and treasurer as provided by s. 66.0607
; that the utility receipts be paid to a bonded cashier appointed by the commission, to be turned over to the city, village or town treasurer at least once a month; and that the commission have designated general powers in the construction, extension, improvement and operation of the utility. Actual construction work shall be under the immediate supervision of the board of public works or corresponding authority.
If water mains have been installed or extended in a municipality and the cost of installation or extension has been in some instances assessed against the abutting owners and in other instances paid by the municipality or a utility, the governing body of the municipality may provide that all persons who paid the assessment against any lot or parcel of land may be reimbursed the amount of the assessment regardless of when such assessment was made or paid. Reimbursement may be made from such funds or earnings of the municipal utility or from such funds of the municipality as the governing body determines.
Two or more public utilities acquired as a single enterprise may be operated under this section as a single enterprise.
In a 2nd, 3rd or 4th class city, a village or a town, the council or board may provide for the operation of a public utility or utilities by the board of public works or by another officer or officers, in lieu of the commission provided for in this section.
When a city council creates a board under sub. (1), the council is prohibited by sub. (3) from fixing the wages of the utility's employees. Schroeder v. City of Clintonville, 90 Wis. 2d 457
, 280 N.W.2d 166
Although the statutes relating to public utilities and transit commissions describe certain attributes the governing commissions must have, these statutes do not call the commission into existence or endow it with authority independent of what the statutes confer on the municipality. A commission has no authority but for what it received from the municipality, and the municipality has no authority to legislate contrary to the boundaries established by the statutes. Wisconsin Carry, Inc. v. City of Madison, 2017 WI 19
, 373 Wis. 2d 543
, 892 N.W.2d 233
This section grants municipalities the authority to create commissions to govern public utilities, but it contains no independent grant of authority to such commissions. As a public utility, a commission exercises its authority under the supervision of the city. The city exercises its supervisory authority via ordinance. Wisconsin Carry, Inc. v. City of Madison, 2017 WI 19
, 373 Wis. 2d 543
, 892 N.W.2d 233
Joint operation of public utility or public transportation system. 66.0807(1)
In this section, “privately owned public utility" includes a cooperative association organized under ch. 185
for the purpose of producing or furnishing utility service to its members only.
A city, village or town served by a privately owned public utility, motor bus or other systems of public transportation rendering local service may contract with the owner of the utility or system for the leasing, public operation, joint operation, extension and improvement of the utility or system by the municipality; or, with funds loaned by the municipality, may contract for the stabilization by municipal guaranty of the return upon or for the purchase by installments out of earnings or otherwise of that portion of the public utility or system which is operated within the municipality and any territory immediately adjacent and tributary to the municipality; or may contract for the accomplishment of any object agreed upon between the parties relating to the use, operation, management, value, earnings, purchase, extension, improvement, sale, lease or control of the utility or system property. The provisions of s. 66.0817
relating to preliminary agreement and approval by the department of transportation or public service commission apply to the contracts authorized by this section. The department of transportation or public service commission shall, when a contract under this section is approved by it and consummated, cooperate with the parties in respect to making valuations, appraisals, estimates and other determinations specified in the contract to be made by it.
History: 1977 c. 29
s. 1654 (9) (g)
; 1981 c. 347
s. 80 (2)
; 1985 a. 187
; 1993 a. 16
; 1999 a 150 ss. 171, 237; Stats. 1999 s. 66.0807; 2005 a. 441
Municipal public utility charges. 66.0809(1)
Except as provided in sub. (2)
, the governing body of a town, village or city operating a public utility may, by ordinance, fix the initial rates and shall provide for this collection monthly, bimonthly or quarterly in advance or otherwise. The rates shall be uniform for like service in all parts of the municipality and shall include the cost of fluorinating the water. The rates may include standby charges to property not connected but for which public utility facilities have been made available. The charges shall be collected by the treasurer or other officer or employee designated by the city, village or town.
If, on June 21, 1996, it is the practice of a governing body of a town, village or city operating a public utility to collect utility service charges using a billing period other than one permitted under sub. (1)
, the governing body may continue to collect utility service charges using that billing period.
Except as provided in subs. (4)
, on October 15 in each year notice shall be given to the owner or occupant of the lots or parcels of real estate to which utility service has been furnished prior to October 1 by a public utility operated by a town, city, or village and payment for which is owing and in arrears at the time of giving the notice. The department in charge of the utility shall furnish the treasurer with a list of the lots or parcels of real estate for which utility service charges are in arrears, and the notice shall be given by the treasurer, unless the governing body of the city, village, or town authorizes notice to be given directly by the department. The notice shall be in writing and shall state the amount of arrears, including any penalty assessed pursuant to the rules of the utility; that unless the amount is paid by November 1 a penalty of 10 percent of the amount of arrears will be added; and that unless the arrears, with any added penalty, are paid by November 15, the arrears and penalty will be levied as a special charge, as defined under s. 74.01 (4)
, against the lot or parcel of real estate to which utility service was furnished and for which payment is delinquent. The notice may be served by delivery to either the owner or occupant personally, or by letter addressed to the owner or occupant at the post-office address of the lot or parcel of real estate.
On November 16, the officer or department issuing the notice shall certify and file with the clerk a list of all lots or parcels of real estate, giving the legal description, for which notice of arrears was given under par. (a)
and for which arrears remain unpaid, stating the amount of arrears and penalty. Each delinquent amount, including the penalty, becomes a lien upon the lot or parcel of real estate to which the utility service was furnished and payment for which is delinquent, and the clerk shall insert the delinquent amount and penalty as a special charge, as defined under s. 74.01 (4)
, against the lot or parcel of real estate.
All proceedings in relation to the collection of general property taxes and to the return and sale of property for delinquent taxes apply to the special charge under par. (b)
if it is not paid within the time required by law for payment of taxes upon real estate.
Under this subsection, if an arrearage is for utility service furnished and metered by the utility directly to a manufactured home or mobile home unit in a licensed manufactured and mobile home community, the notice shall be given to the owner of the manufactured home or mobile home unit and the delinquent amount becomes a lien on the manufactured home or mobile home unit rather than a lien on the parcel of real estate on which the manufactured home or mobile home unit is located. A lien on a manufactured home or mobile home unit may be enforced using the procedures under s. 779.48 (2)
This subsection does not apply to arrearages collected using the procedure under s. 66.0627
“Metered” means the use of any method to ascertain the amount of service used or the use of a flat rate billing method.
If sub. (5)
applies, the municipal utility is complying with sub. (5) (am) 1.
, and a notice of arrears under sub. (3) (a)
is given or past-due charges are certified to the comptroller under s. 62.69 (2) (f)
, on the date the notice of arrears is given, or the past-due charges are certified under s. 62.69 (2) (f)
, the municipality has a lien upon the assets of each tenant of a rental dwelling unit who is responsible for arrears in the amount of the arrears, including any penalty assessed pursuant to the rules of the utility.
The department in charge of the utility shall provide a notice to each tenant against whom the municipality has a lien. The notice shall be in writing and shall state the amount of arrears including any penalty assessed pursuant to the rules of the utility, that the tenant is subject to a lien upon his or her assets for arrears for which he or she is responsible, that the lien will transfer to the owner of the rental dwelling unit if the owner pays the arrears, and that the lien will be enforceable upon the filing of the lien with the clerk of courts.
If par. (a)
applies, prior to December 17, the municipality shall file with the clerk of courts a list of tenants of rental dwelling units responsible for arrears and against whom the municipality continues to have a lien. No action to enforce a lien under par. (a)
may be maintained unless a notice of lien is filed under this paragraph.
If par. (a)
applies and the owner of the rental dwelling unit has paid the municipality the amount provided in the notice of arrears given under sub. (3) (a)
, or certified to the comptroller under s. 62.69 (2) (f)
, or the amount placed as tax against the real estate under sub. (3) (b)
or s. 62.69 (2) (f)
, the lien under par. (a)
transfers to the owner of the rental dwelling unit and the municipality no longer has a lien against the tenant.
An owner of a rental dwelling unit who has a lien under par. (d)
may file a notice of lien with the clerk of court of the county in which the rental dwelling unit is located not more than 6 months after the date the lien arose under par. (a)
. The clerk of courts shall file and enter the notice of lien in the judgment and lien docket. No action to enforce a lien under par. (d)
may be maintained unless a notice of lien is filed under this paragraph.
Within 7 days after a lien established and filed under this subsection is satisfied, the lienholder shall file with the clerk of courts a notice of lien satisfaction.
A municipal utility may use the procedures under sub. (3)
to collect arrearages for electric service only if one of the following applies:
The municipality has enacted an ordinance that authorizes the use of the procedures under sub. (3)
for the collection of arrearages for electric service provided by the municipal utility.
In 1996, the municipality collected arrearages for electric service provided by the municipal utility using the procedures under s. 66.60 (16)
, 1993 stats.
This subsection applies only if all of the following conditions are met:
Water or electric utility service is provided to a rental dwelling unit.
The water or electric utility service is provided by a town sanitary district created under subch. IX of ch. 60
that has sewerage connections serving more than 700 service addresses, by a public inland lake protection and rehabilitation district under subch. IV of ch. 33
that has sewerage connections serving more than 700 service addresses or by a municipal public utility.
The owner of the rental dwelling unit notifies the utility in writing of the name and address of the owner.
The owner of the rental dwelling unit notifies the utility in writing of the name and address of the tenant who is responsible for payment of the utility charges.
If requested by the utility, the owner of the rental dwelling unit provides the utility with a copy of the rental or lease agreement in which the tenant assumes responsibility for the payment of the utility charges.
A municipal public utility shall send bills for water or electric service to a customer who is a tenant in the tenant's own name.
If a customer who is a tenant vacates his or her rental dwelling unit, and the owner of the rental dwelling unit provides the municipal public utility, no later than 21 days after the date on which the tenant vacates the rental dwelling unit, with a written notice that contains a forwarding address for the tenant and the date that the tenant vacated the rental dwelling unit, the utility shall continue to send past-due notices to the customer at his or her forwarding address until the past-due charges are paid or until notice has been provided under sub. (3) (a)
or the past-due charges have been certified to the comptroller under s. 62.69 (2) (f)
A municipal public utility may use sub. (3)
or, if s. 62.69
applies, s. 62.69 (2) (f)
, to collect arrearages incurred after the owner of a rental dwelling unit has provided the utility with written notice under par. (a)
if the municipal public utility is complying with par. (am) 1.
and serves notice of the past-due charges on the owner of the rental dwelling unit within 14 days of the date on which the tenant's charges became past due. The municipal public utility shall serve notice in the manner provided in s. 801.14 (2)
No earlier than 14 days after receiving a notice under par. (b)
of a tenant's past-due charges for electric service, the owner of a rental dwelling unit may request that the municipal public utility terminate electric service to the rental dwelling unit. Except as provided under rules of the public service commission relating to disconnection of service and subject to the procedural requirements under those rules, unless all past-due charges are paid, the municipal utility shall terminate electric service to the rental dwelling unit upon receipt of a request under this paragraph. This paragraph does not apply if a municipal public utility does not use the procedures under sub. (3)
to collect the past-due charges.
A municipal public utility may demonstrate compliance with the notice requirements of par. (b)
by providing evidence of having sent the notice by U.S. mail or, if the person receiving the notice has consented to receive notice in an electronic format, by providing evidence of having sent the notice in an electronic format.
If this subsection applies and a municipal public utility elects to collect arrearages under sub. (3)
or s. 62.69 (2) (f)
, the municipal public utility shall provide all notices under sub. (3)
or s. 62.69 (2) (f)
to the tenant and to the owner of the property or a person designated by the owner.
A municipal utility may require a prospective customer to submit an application for water or electric service.
A municipal public utility shall disclose to the owner of a rental dwelling unit, upon the owner's request, whether a new or prospective tenant has outstanding past-due charges for utility service to that municipal public utility in that tenant's name at a different address.
A municipal utility is not required to offer a customer who is a tenant at a rental dwelling unit a deferred payment agreement. Notwithstanding. ss. 196.03
, and 196.60
, a determination by a municipal utility to offer or not offer a deferred payment agreement does not require approval, and is not subject to disapproval, by the public service commission.
A municipal utility may adopt application, deposit, disconnection, or collection rules and practices that distinguish between customers based upon whether the customer owns or leases the property that is receiving utility service where the possibility exists for any unpaid bills of a tenant to become a lien on the property that is receiving utility service.
Municipalities owning electric companies may pass ordinances allowing unpaid charges for furnished electricity to be placed on tax bills of the receiving property. 73 Atty. Gen 128.
Under the facts of the case, a municipal utility's claim for unpaid utility charges was subject to the automatic stay in bankruptcy court. Reedsburg Utility Co v. Grede Foundries, Inc. 651 F.3d 786
Municipal public utility revenues. 66.0811(1)
A city, village or town owning a public utility is entitled to the same rate of return as permitted for privately owned utilities.
The income of a municipal public utility shall first be used to make payments to meet operation, maintenance, depreciation, interest, and debt service fund requirements, local and school tax equivalents, additions and improvements, and other necessary disbursements or indebtedness. Beginning with taxes levied in 1995, payable in 1996, payments for local and school tax equivalents shall at least be equal to the payment made on the property for taxes levied in 1994, payable in 1995, unless a lower payment is authorized by the governing body of the municipality. Income in excess of these requirements may be used to purchase and hold interest bearing bonds, issued for the acquisition of the utility; bonds issued by the United States or any municipal corporation of this state; insurance upon the life of an officer or manager of the utility; or may be paid into the general fund.
A city, town or village may use funds derived from its water plant to meet operation, maintenance, depreciation, interest and debt service funds; new construction or equipment or other indebtedness for sewerage construction work other than that which is chargeable against abutting property; or the funds may be placed into the general fund to be used for general city purposes or in a special fund to be used for special municipal purposes.
History: 1999 a. 150
See also ch. PSC 109
, Wis. adm. code.
Provision of utility service outside of municipality by municipal public utility. 66.0813(1)
A town, town sanitary district, village or city owning water, light or power plant or equipment may serve persons or places outside its corporate limits, including adjoining municipalities not owning or operating a similar utility, and may interconnect with another municipality, whether contiguous or not, and for these purposes may use equipment owned by the other municipality.
Plant or equipment, except water plant or equipment or interconnection property in any municipality interconnected, situated in another municipality is taxable in the other municipality under s. 76.28
Notwithstanding s. 196.58 (5)
, a city, village or town may by ordinance fix the limits of utility service in unincorporated areas. The ordinance shall delineate the area within which service will be provided and the municipal utility has no obligation to serve beyond the delineated area. The delineated area may be enlarged by a subsequent ordinance. No ordinance under this paragraph is effective to limit any obligation to serve that existed at the time that the ordinance was adopted.
Notwithstanding s. 196.58 (5)
, a municipality that operates a utility that provides water service may enter into an agreement with a city or village to provide water service to all or a part of that city or village. The agreement shall delineate the area within which service will be provided and the municipal water utility shall have no obligation to serve beyond the area so delineated. The agreement is not effective to limit any obligation to serve which may have existed at the time the agreement was entered into.
An agreement by a city, village or town to furnish utility service outside its corporate limits to unincorporated property used for public, educational, industrial or eleemosynary purposes fixes the nature and geographical limits of that utility service unless altered by a change in the agreement, notwithstanding s. 196.58 (5)
. A change in use or ownership of property included under that agreement does not alter terms and limitations of that agreement.
An agreement under sub. (4)
under which a city or village agrees to furnish sewerage service to a prison, which is located in an area that has been incorporated since that agreement was made, may be amended to provide that the city or village will also furnish water service to the prison. An agreement amended under this subsection fixes the nature and geographical limits of the water and sewer service unless altered by a change in the agreement, notwithstanding s. 196.58 (5)
. A change in use or ownership of property included under an agreement amended under this subsection does not alter the terms and limitations of that agreement.