History: 1999 a. 150
; 2015 a. 55
See also ch. PSC 185
, Wis. adm. code.
Public utility franchises and service contracts. 66.0815(1)(a)(a)
A city, village or town may grant to any person the right to construct and operate a public utility in the city, village or town, subject to reasonable rules and regulations prescribed by ordinance.
The board or council may submit the ordinance when passed and published to a referendum.
An ordinance under sub. (1)
may not take effect until 60 days after passage and publication unless sooner approved by a referendum. Within the 60-day period electors equal in number to 20 percent of those voting at the last regular municipal election may file a petition requesting a referendum. The petition shall be in writing and filed with the clerk and as provided in s. 8.37
. The petition shall conform to the requirements of s. 8.40
. Each signer shall state his or her residence and signatures shall be verified by the affidavit of an elector. The referendum shall be held at the next regular municipal election, or at a special election within 90 days of the filing of the petition. The ordinance may not take effect unless approved by a majority of the votes cast. This paragraph does not apply to extensions by a utility previously franchised by the village, city, or town.
If a city or village at the time of its incorporation included within its corporate limits territory in which a public utility, before the incorporation, had been lawfully engaged in rendering public utility service, the public utility possesses a franchise to operate in the city or village to the same extent as if the franchise had been formally granted by ordinance adopted by the governing body of the city or village. This paragraph does not apply to any public utility organized under this chapter.
A city, village or town may contract for furnishing light, heat, water or motor bus or other systems of public transportation to the municipality or its inhabitants for a period of not more than 30 years or for an indeterminate period if the prices are subject to adjustment at intervals of not greater than 5 years. The public service commission has jurisdiction over the rates and service to any city, village or town where light, heat or water is furnished to the city, village or town under any contract or arrangement, to the same extent that the public service commission has jurisdiction where that service is furnished directly to the public.
When a city, village or town has contracted for water, lighting service or motor bus or other systems of public transportation to the municipality the cost may be raised by tax levy. In making payment to the owner of the utility a sum equal to the amount due the city, village or town from the owner for taxes or special assessments may be deducted.
This subsection applies to every city, village and town regardless of any charter limitations on the tax levy for water or light.
If a privately owned motor bus or public transportation system in a city, village or town fails to provide service for a period in excess of 30 days, and the owner or stockholders of the privately owned motor bus or public transportation system have announced an intention to abandon service, the governing body of the affected municipality may without referendum furnish or contract for the furnishing of other motor bus or public transportation service to the municipality and its inhabitants and to the users of the defaulting prior service for a period of not more than one year. This paragraph does not authorize a municipality to hire, directly or indirectly, any strikebreaker or other person for the purpose of replacing employees of the motor bus or public transportation system engaged in a strike.
Sale or lease of municipal public utility plant.
A town, village or city may sell or lease any complete public utility plant owned by it in the following manner:
A preliminary agreement with the prospective purchaser or lessee shall be authorized by a resolution or ordinance containing a summary of the terms proposed, of the disposition to be made of the proceeds, and of the provisions to be made for the protection of holders of obligations against the plant or against the municipality on account of the plant. The resolution or ordinance shall be published at least one week before adoption, as a class 1 notice, under ch. 985
. The resolution or ordinance may be adopted only at a regular meeting and by a majority of all the members of the governing body.
The preliminary agreement shall fix the price of sale or lease, and provide that if the amount fixed by the department of transportation or public service commission is greater, the price shall be that fixed by the department or commission.
The municipality shall submit the preliminary agreement when executed to the department of transportation or public service commission, which shall determine whether the interests of the municipality and its residents will be best served by the sale or lease, and if it so determines, shall fix the price and other terms.
After the price and other terms are fixed under sub. (3)
, the proposal shall be submitted to the electors of the municipality. The notice of the referendum shall include a description of the plant and a summary of the preliminary agreement and of the price and terms as fixed by the department of transportation or public service commission. If a majority voting on the question votes for the sale or lease, the board or council may consummate the sale or lease, upon the terms and at a price not less than fixed by the department of transportation or public service commission, with the proposed purchaser or lessee or any other with whom better terms approved by the department of transportation or public service commission can be made.
Unless the sale or lease is consummated within one year of the referendum, or the time is extended by the department of transportation or public service commission, the proceedings are void.
If the municipality has revenue or mortgage bonds outstanding relating to the utility plant and which by their terms may not be redeemed concurrently with the sale or lease transaction, an escrow fund with a domestic bank as trustee may be established for the purpose of holding, administering and distributing that portion of the sales or lease proceeds necessary to cover the payment of the principal, any redemption premium and interest which will accrue on the principal through the earliest retirement date of the bonds. During the period of the escrow arrangement the funds may be invested in securities or other investments as described in s. 66.0603 (1m)
For the purpose of this section, the department of transportation has jurisdiction over transportation systems and the public service commission has jurisdiction over public utilities as defined in s. 196.01
Combining water and sewer utilities. 66.0819(1)(1)
A town, village, or city may construct, acquire, or lease, or extend and improve, a plant and equipment within or without its corporate limits for the furnishing of water to the municipality or to its inhabitants, and for the collection, treatment, and disposal of sewage, including the lateral, main and intercepting sewers, and all necessary equipment. The plant and equipment, whether the structures and equipment for the furnishing of water and for the disposal of sewage are combined or separate, may by ordinance be constituted a single public utility.
The provisions of this chapter and chs. 196
relating to a water system, including those provisions relating to the regulation of a water system by the public service commission, apply to a consolidated water and sewage disposal system as a single public utility. In prescribing rates, accounting and engineering practices, extension rules, service standards or other regulations for a consolidated water and sewage disposal system, the public service commission shall treat the water system and the sewage disposal system separately, unless the commission finds that the public interest requires otherwise.
A town, village or city which owns or acquires a water system and a plant or system for the treatment or disposal of sewage may by ordinance consolidate the systems into a single public utility. After the effective date of the ordinance the consolidated utility is subject to this section as though originally acquired as a single public utility.
History: 1981 c. 390
; 1995 a. 378
; 1999 a. 150
; Stats. 1999 s. 66.0819.
See also chs. PSC 184
, Wis. adm. code.
Sewerage and storm water systems. 66.0821(1)(b)
“Sewerage" is a comprehensive term, including all constructions for collection, transportation, pumping, treatment and final disposition of sewage or storm water and surface water.
In addition to all other methods provided by law, a municipality may construct, acquire or lease, extend or improve any plant and equipment within or without its corporate limits for the collection, transportation, storage, treatment and disposal of sewage or storm water and surface water, including necessary lateral, main and interceptor sewers, and a town, village or city may arrange for the service to be furnished by a metropolitan sewerage district or joint sewerage system.
If the extension of a sewer line or water main that is described under subd. 1.
is required because of a new subdivision, as defined in s. 236.02 (12)
, or commercial development, the municipality may recoup some or all of the costs that it has incurred for the extension by a method described under subd. 1.
or by any other method of financing agreed to by the municipality and the developer. If a person, whose property is outside of the subdivision for which a developer is paying, or has paid, the costs of a sewerage project under this subdivision, connects an extension into the sewerage project after the amount is established that the developer is required to pay under this subdivision, that person shall pay to the developer an amount determined by the public service commission. The public service commission shall promulgate rules to determine the amount that such a person shall pay to a developer. The rules promulgated under this subdivision, shall be based on the benefits accruing to the property that connects an extension into the sewerage project.
The governing body of a municipality, and the officials in charge of the management of the sewerage system as well as other officers of the municipality, are governed in the discharge of their powers and duties under this section by ss. 66.0809
or 62.69 (2) (f)
, to the extent consistent with this section, or, in the case of a metropolitan sewerage district created under ss. 200.21
, by ss. 200.55
Except as provided in s. 66.0721
, all or a portion of the cost of exercising the authority under sub. (2)
may be funded, to the extent applicable, from the municipality's general fund, by taxation, special assessment or sewerage service charges, by municipal obligations or revenue bonds or from any combination of these sources.
If funding under par. (a)
in whole or in part is by the issue and sale of revenue bonds, the payments shall be made as provided in s. 66.0621
to the extent not inconsistent with this section. In this paragraph, “public utility" as used in s. 66.0621
includes the sewerage system, accessories, equipment and other property, including land. The mortgage or revenue bonds or mortgage certificates do not constitute an indebtedness of the municipality and may be secured only by the sewerage system and its revenue, and the franchise provided for in this section.
Any municipality may pledge, assign or otherwise hypothecate the net earnings or profits derived or to be derived from a sewerage system to secure the payment of the costs of purchasing, constructing or otherwise acquiring a sewerage system or any part of a sewerage system, or for extending or improving the sewerage system, in the manner provided in s. 66.0621 (5)
The governing body of the municipality may establish sewerage service charges in an amount to meet all or part of the requirements for the construction, reconstruction, improvement, extension, operation, maintenance, repair, and depreciation of the sewerage system, and for the payment of all or part of the principal and interest of any indebtedness incurred for those purposes, including the replacement of funds advanced by or paid from the general fund of the municipality. Service charges made by a metropolitan sewerage district to any town, village, or city shall be levied by the town, village, or city against the individual sewer system users within the corporate limits of the municipality, and the municipality shall collect the charges and promptly remit them to the metropolitan sewerage district. Delinquent charges shall be collected in accordance with sub. (4) (d)
. The governing body of a municipality may not establish any charge under this paragraph that is not related to providing sewerage service.
For the purpose of making equitable charges for all services rendered by the sanitary sewerage system to the municipality or to citizens, corporations and other users, the property benefited by the system may be classified, taking into consideration the volume of water, including surface or drain waters, the character of the sewage or waste and the nature of the use made of the sewerage system, including the sewage disposal plant. The charges may include standby charges to property not connected but for which sewerage system facilities have been made available.
For the purpose of making equitable charges for all services rendered by a storm water and surface water sewerage system to users, the property served may be classified, taking into consideration the volume or peaking of storm water or surface water discharge that is caused by the area of impervious surfaces, topography, impervious surfaces and other surface characteristics, extent and reliability of mitigation or treatment measures available to service the property, apart from measures provided by the storm water and surface water sewerage system, and any other considerations that are reasonably relevant to a use made of the storm water and surface water sewerage system. The charges may also include standby charges to property not yet developed with significant impervious surfaces for which capacity has been made available in the storm water and surface water sewerage system. No additional charges, beyond those charged to similar properties, may be charged to a property for services rendered by a storm and surface water system for a property that continually retains 90 percent of the difference between the post-development and predevelopment runoff on site.
Sewerage service charges shall be collected and charged and shall be a lien upon the property served in the same manner as water rates are charged and collected under s. 62.69 (2) (f)
to the extent applicable, except that charges of a metropolitan sewerage district created under ss. 200.21
shall be assessed and collected as provided in s. 200.55 (5)
(5) Unreasonable or discriminatory rates, rules and practices. 66.0821(5)(a)(a)
If a user of a service complains to the public service commission that rates, rules and practices are unreasonable or unjustly discriminatory, or if a holder of a mortgage or revenue bond or mortgage certificate or other evidence of debt, secured by a mortgage on the sewerage system or any part of the system or pledge of the income of sewerage service charges, complains that rates are inadequate, the public service commission shall investigate the complaint. If there appears to be sufficient cause for the complaint, the commission shall set the matter for a public hearing upon 10 days' notice to the complainant and the town, village or city. After the hearing, if the public service commission determines that the rates, rules or practices complained of are unreasonable or unjustly discriminatory, it shall determine and by order fix reasonable rates, rules and practices and may make any other order respecting the complaint that is just and reasonable, including, in the case of standby charges imposed under sub. (4) (c)
, an order that a municipality refund to the user any amount of the standby charges that have been collected if the user has filed a complaint with the public service commission not later than 60 days after receiving the original notice of charge or after receiving a notice of charge that relates to an increased standby charge. The proceedings under this paragraph are governed, to the extent applicable, by ss. 196.26
. Except as provided in pars. (e)
, the commission shall bill any expense of the commission attributable to a proceeding under this paragraph to the town, village or city under s. 196.85 (1)
Judicial review of a determination of the public service commission under par. (a)
may be had by any person aggrieved in the manner prescribed in ch. 227
For purposes of this subsection, “user" of a service includes a licensed disposer, as defined in s. 281.49 (1) (b)
, who disposes of septage at a municipal sewage system under a disposal plan under s. 281.49 (5)
and initiates under s. 281.49 (11) (d)
a review under par. (a)
of a disputed septage disposal fee by the public service commission.
If the public service commission determines in a proceeding under par. (a)
that a septage disposal fee is unreasonable, the commission shall determine and fix under par. (a)
a reasonable fee that conforms with s. 281.49 (5) (c) 4.
Any expense of the commission attributable to a proceeding under par. (a)
that is initiated under s. 281.49 (11) (d)
is subject to the following:
If the commission determines in the proceeding that one or more septage disposal fees are unreasonable and determines and fixes by order reasonable septage disposal fees that, when combined with any other applicable septage disposal fees, total an amount that is at least 15 percent lower than the total amount of septage disposal fees established by the municipal sewage system for the quantity and type of septage specified in s. 281.49 (11) (b)
, the municipal sewage system that is a party to the dispute shall pay the entire amount of the assessment.
If the commission determines in the proceeding that one or more of the septage disposal fees are unreasonable and determines and fixes by order reasonable fees that, when combined with any other applicable septage disposal fees, total an amount that is not at least 15 percent lower than the total amount of septage disposal fees established by the municipal sewage system for the quantity and type of septage specified in s. 281.49 (11) (b)
, the commission may require the licensed disposer that is a party to the dispute to pay the entire amount of the assessment.
If the commission determines in the proceeding that the septage disposal fees are reasonable, the commission may require the licensed disposer that is a party to the dispute to pay the entire amount of the assessment.
If the commission terminates the proceeding before making a final determination on the reasonableness of the septage disposal fees, the commission may require the municipal sewage system and the licensed disposer that are parties to the dispute to each pay 50 percent of the assessment or a different allocation of the assessment agreed to by the parties.
The public service commission may bill a complainant for any expense of the commission attributable to a proceeding under par. (a)
If the commission determines in the proceeding that the rates, rules, or practices that are the subject of the complaint are not unreasonable, unjustly discriminatory, or inadequate, the commission may require the complainant to pay all or a portion, as determined by the commission, of the expenses.
If the commission terminates the proceeding before making a final determination, the commission may require the municipality and complainant to each pay 50 percent of the expenses or a different allocation of the expenses agreed to by the municipality and complainant.
The public service commission shall mail a complainant a bill for any expense the commission requires the complainant to pay under subd. 2.
The bill constitutes demand for payment. Within 30 days after the mailing of the bill, the complainant shall pay to the commission the amount billed. Ninety percent of the payment shall be credited to the appropriation account under s. 20.155 (1) (g)
(6) Foreclosure sale.
If there is a sale of mortgaged sewerage system premises on a judgment of foreclosure and sale, the price paid for the premises may not exceed the amount of the judgment and the costs of sale to and including the recording of the sheriff's deed. The purchaser on the foreclosure sale may operate and maintain the sewerage system and collect sewerage service charges, and for that purpose is deemed to have a franchise from the municipality. The term “purchaser" includes the purchaser's successors or assigns. The rates to be charged, in addition to the contributions, if any, which the municipality has obligated itself to make toward the capital or operating costs of the plant, shall be sufficient to meet the requirements of operation, maintenance, repairs, depreciation, interest and an amount sufficient to amortize the judgment debts and all additional capital costs which the purchaser contributes to the plan over a period not exceeding 20 years. In addition, the purchaser of the premises may earn a reasonable amount, as determined by the public service commission, on the actual amount of the purchaser's investment in the premises represented by the purchase price of the premises, plus any additions made to the investment by the purchaser or minus any payments made by the municipality on account of the investments. The municipality may by payment reduce the investment of the purchaser and after full payment of the purchase price plus the cost of subsequent improvements the premises shall revert to the municipality. While the premises are owned by the private purchaser, the premises shall be considered a public utility and are subject to ch. 196
to the extent applicable.
(7) Relation to other authority.
The authority under this section is in addition to any power which municipalities otherwise have with respect to sewerage or sewage disposal. Nothing in this section shall be construed as restricting or interfering with any powers and duties of the department of health services as prescribed by law.
See also ch. PSC 187
, Wis. adm. code.
NOTE: 2005 Wis. Act 347
, which affected this section, contains extensive explanatory notes.
A charge “in lieu of tax" was not an allowable method of sewerage treatment cost recovery under sub. (4). Fred Rueping Leather Co. v. City of Fond du Lac, 99 Wis. 2d 1
, 298 N.W.2d 227
(Ct. App. 1980).
The PSC is not authorized by sub. (9) [now sub. (5)] to set rates retroactively or to order refunds. Kimberly-Clark Corp. v. Public Service Commission, 110 Wis. 2d 455
, 329 N.W.2d 143
Mobile home owners who rented lots from a mobile home park on which their homes were placed who asserted the rate scheme applied to the park was discriminatory under this section could not complain directly under that statute. They were not “users" of the service within the meaning of sub. (5) when the service fee was assessed to the owners of the park and did not identify a legally protectible interest that would confer the standing necessary to obtain relief. Zehner v. Village of Marshall, 2006 WI App 6
, 288 Wis. 2d 660
, 709 N.W.2d 64
Joint local water authorities. 66.0823(1)(1)
Finding and declaration of necessity.
It is declared that the operation of water utility systems by local governmental units of this state and the improvement of the systems through joint action in the production, treatment, storage, transmission, distribution, purchase, sale and exchange of water is in the public interest and a matter of statewide concern; that there is a need in order to ensure the stability and continued viability of the local systems to provide for a means by which local governmental units which operate the systems may act jointly, including development of coordinated water production, treatment, storage, transmission and distribution; and that, the necessity in the public interest for the provisions of this section is declared as a matter of legislative determination.
As used in this section, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
“Authority" means a joint local water authority.
“Bonds" means any bonds, interim certificates, notes, debentures or other obligations of an authority issued under this section.
“Commission" means the public service commission.
“Contracting party" means a local governmental unit in this state, or a federally recognized Indian tribe or band located in this state, that contracts to establish or to join an authority under this section.
“Local governmental unit" means any city, village, town, county, town sanitary district, water utility district, or a public inland lake protection and rehabilitation district that has town sanitary district powers under s. 33.22 (3)
“Local water authority" means a public corporation created by contract between 2 or more contracting parties.
“Project" means any plant, works, system, facilities and real and personal property of any nature, together with all parts and appurtenances, that are used or useful in the production, treatment, storage, transmission, distribution, purchase, sale, or exchange of water. “Project" includes any interest in, or right to the capacity of, the plant, works, system, facilities or property. “Project" also includes the acquisition of water and the acquisition, construction or operation of facilities for producing, treating, storing, transmitting, or distributing water.
Creation by contract.
Any local governmental unit in this state may contract with one or more local governmental units in this state or federally recognized Indian tribes or bands located in the state to establish a separate governmental entity, to be known as a joint local water authority, to jointly produce, treat, store, transmit, distribute, purchase, sell or exchange water, in whole or in part for the benefit of the contracting parties. The parties to the contract may amend the contract as provided in the contract.
At least 30 days before becoming a contracting party by entering into a contract under this subsection, a local governmental unit shall hold a public hearing on the proposed contract. Notice of the hearing shall be published as a class 3 notice under ch. 985
The parties entering into a contract under this subsection shall file a copy of the contract with the secretary of state. Upon receipt, the secretary of state shall record the contract and issue a certificate of incorporation stating the name of the authority and the date and fact of incorporation. The corporate existence of the authority begins upon issuance of the certificate.
A contract establishing an authority under sub. (3)
shall specify all of the following:
The name and purpose of the authority and the functions or services to be provided by the authority. The name shall refer to the authority as an agency, authority or district.
The establishment and organization of a board of directors, in which all powers of the authority shall be vested. The contract may permit the board of directors to create an executive committee of the board of directors to which the board of directors may delegate any of its powers and duties, as specified by the board.
The number of directors, the manner of their appointment, the terms of their office, their compensation, if any, and the procedure for filling vacancies on the board of directors. The contracting parties shall appoint the members of the board of directors. Each contracting party shall be entitled to appoint an equal number of directors to the board of directors and may remove those directors at will.