Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Nov. 8, 1999

Shortfall in sewer rates spread to all Winsted users

By Luis Puga

Sewer rates for all users in the City of Winsted, including Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), will be increased to cover a shortfall, the Winsted City Council decided last Monday.

The council had been in discussion with Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) over a shortfall in its sewer usage due to DFA's change in production from cheese making to cheese powder production.

The city's waste water treatment plant was originally designed to handle a large amount of the discharge from the plant.

Since the production change, DFA's sewer usage decreased considerably, resulting in a lower rate by the company, which in turn, left the city losing about $16,500 a month on the sewer services.

SEH-RCM Engineer Cynthia Moeller-Krauss presented nine options to the council along with the estimated impact of each.

They ranged from DFA swallowing all the costs of the shortfall to numbers that figured as if DFA was no longer in Winsted.

Plant Manager Lisa Hensel noted that DFA felt the sharing of rates by everyone was a fair solution to the problem, which is what the council chose.

DFA will pay $36,211.67 per quarter, effective Nov. 1.

Its rate had dropped to $22,195.73 per quarter after its producation had changed.

If DFA was required to make up the entire difference, its quarterly rate would be $73,403.93.

An average household will see an increase from $40.60 per quarter to $71.98 per quarter starting in January.

The city will assume the loss until the change takes effect.

Also, it is hoped that DFA will add another dryer to its production process, which would increase sewer usage and DFA's rate.

Hensel said DFA's Winsted plant is among two locations that could receive a dryer in the next couple of years. At that time, the council could review the rates and adjust them as necessary.

New school petition

Dave Sherman, a Winsted resident, presented a petition to the council voicing support for the decision to be made on the location of a new high school in the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted school district.

The petition calls for the three communities to unite, no matter where the location of the school is determined to be.

Sherman urged council members to sign the petition, but added that it was completely voluntary.

Some doubt was expressed by the council, particularly by Mayor Floyd Sneer, who questioned whether Howard Lake's and Waverly's mayors would actually present the petition to their councils.

City Administrator Aaron Reeves said he also wanted to see more assurances that Winsted's elementary school wouldn't close if the high school does not come to Winsted.

He said that despite assurances from the board that it will not, the school is considered the most expendable of the three elementary schools in the district.

He noted that setting the school as the first to close was probably in part done to perhaps increase the chances of a high school being placed in Winsted.

Sneer also commented that the outcome of the elections Tuesday would impact his perspective on the matter. He felt that the change in the make-up of the HLWW School Board and the referendum issue in Lester Prairie could have an impact on the site selection.

Sherman indicated that it was important to support the school's task force in its recommendation, citing that all communities have their own "egos."

He again stressed the importance of coming together after the decision is made and said that the process of selecting a site should be done in a positive manner.

The site recommendation for the school is due by Dec. 15.

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