La Crosse and Onalaska disagreeing with proposed Sewer Service Agreement

Cities are known to negotiate with disagreements from time to time.

“The desire of the city of Onalaska is to have a long-term agreement and we’ve proposed agreements as such going back several years,” Onalaska City Administrator Eric Rindfleisch said.

For the cities of La Crosse and Onalaska, they are both trying to figure out ways to get a new extension for the Sanitary Sewer Service Agreement.

“I believe we as a city, we have to look out for what’s in the best interest of everybody,” La Crosse Common Council member Jessica Olson said.

Last month the La Crosse Common Council passed a resolution intending to cut off Onalaska as a wholesale customer from the regional sewage district, which also includes La Crescent, Campbell and Shelby.

In a letter sent to La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat Oct. 11, Rindfleisch said Onalaska does not want to pay a regional services fee to La Crosse, which amounts to 60-dollars-per household.

It would be on top of the rate increases and hookup fees Onalaska has already agreed to.

Rindfleisch says the added service fee would impact the city’s ability to provide basic level of services to its residents, which eventually could put sewage treatment in danger.

“So it’s putting all of that at risk which I don’t think is anybody’s best interest,” Rindfleisch said.

The regional services fee would help pay for upgrades to the Waste Water Treatment System.

Olson says La Crosse residents will be paying more too.

“We’re not out looking to gouge them or anybody,” Olson said. “It really is looking at how can all of the people who are in the system pay in for a fair way to make that huge upgrade that we need to do feasible.”

Despite these fee disagreements, La Crosse is hoping to keep Onalaska on the team sooner rather than later.

“That wasn’t meant to say that we’re gonna flip a switch and there’s gonna be raw sewage in the streets,” Olson said. “That’s not gonna happen. What it’s saying is ‘well we need some commitment for the long term’. In other words, over the next 10-20 years that you’re going to be with us.”

Kabat declined to comment on the negotiations.