July 16, 2019 – Washington Co., WI – On Thursday, July 25 in Room 1014 at the Washington County Courthouse there will be a public hearing at 7:35 a.m. regarding a proposal to place a special assessment on property tax bills for the tracking and maintenance of the Private On-site Wastewater Treatment System (POWTS) throughout Washington County.
According to the County website:
This assessment is currently estimated at $11 annually per parcel served by POWTS or $11 annually per system located on a single parcel, whichever is greater.
The report on the Special Assessment is available HERE or for inspection at the County Clerk’s Office and Parks and Planning Department Office during business hours.
In short, this report details the proposed special assessments intended to recover or defray Washington County’s costs related to developing, maintaining and enforcing a POWTS inventory tracking system as required by §145.20 Wis. Stats. The assessment district includes all incorporated and unincorporated areas of Washington County within which POWTS are located. We continue to evaluate programs and costs in Washington County in order to best serve all County residents and ensure that we are mindful of the future. As such, the County has passed a preliminary resolution authorizing this report, a letter to homeowners and a public hearing because the cost of this program makes sense to be borne by users rather than taxpayers at large. Roughly 40% of properties within the County are serviced by POWTS (an estimated 20,313 parcels as of 6/13/2019) and the remaining properties are serviced by sewer. 25 other Counties throughout Wisconsin currently use fees to support POWTS system programming.
Some frequently asked questions include:
Q: Why are you holding the public hearing in the morning?
The public hearing is scheduled during the Land Use and Planning’s monthly standing meeting. We are
considering the addition of a possible additional evening information session in order to accommodate a
variety of residents and stakeholders. Any comments received in writing, via email or letter, will be added to
the record of the public hearing. Written comments received on or before Wednesday, July 24 will be
distributed to the committee prior to the hearing. Written comments received after the public hearing will be
distributed to the committee via email. All written comments will be posted to the county’s website.
Q: What would the fee pay for?
The proposed fee is for the administrative costs of the county to administer the POWTS maintenance program
as required by state law. This includes maintaining the inventory of systems and sending maintenance
reminders to POWTS owners when their system is due for maintenance. If compliance is not obtained, then a
Wisconsin Uniform Municipal Citation may be written and an appearance in court may be necessary. Other
duties performed within the program include database management, analysis and quality control of the
POWTS program, mailing and emailing information, reconciliation reports and general customer service
Q: Why do you mail postcards? Could you save money by sending reminder e-mails?
The county looks to employ technology whenever possible. Our current systems do not have a way to email
owners instead of mailing a card. Even mass email clients could require yearly subscription fees. Additionally,
when property ownership changes, the email would be obsolete. It’s more accurate to mail property owners,
because mailing addresses are updated with ownership changes.
Q: $225,000 for this program cost annually is a lot.
The preliminary/proposed program costs are outlined on the county’s website. These were developed based
on a series of assumptions for public and County Board dialogue. Costs shown are based on the county’s
estimated current programming costs for Land Use Programming.
Click HERE to view more answers to frequently asked questions.
A quick note, the fire capacity for Room 1014 is 50. County officials are planning for overflow, however those details have not yet been released.
In addition to the public hearing, an informational session will be held August 6 at Richfield Fire Station #1 at 6 p.m.