Person upset about possible rate increase harasses Madison Water Utility worker, spokeswoman says

Person upset about possible rate increase harasses Madison Water Utility worker, spokeswoman says
Photo courtesy of Madison Water Utility
Paterson Street Operations Center

A Madison Water Utility employee called police Wednesday morning after being harassed at an east side well facility, according to a news release.

Madison Water Utility spokeswoman Amy Barrilleaux said Wednesday that someone approached the employee outside the well and began cursing and harassing the employee, refusing to leave. The man appeared to be upset about a potential increase in water rates.

“It’s true that water rates could increase by $5 to $9 a month this fall, but we ask that people respect our employees, who have important work to carry out,” Barrilleaux said in a written statement.

The Water Utility said that it spent about $6 million more on operations and repairs in 2017 than it took in through water bills, but that there was no mismanagement of funds or frivolous spending. Barrilleaux said spending for the year came in under budget, but that revenues from 2017’s water bill payments, the utility’s only source of income, fell short of what the utility predicted.

Utility officials said that the $6 million cash flow issue didn’t cause the upcoming rate increase and that the utility had filed a rate application with the Public Service Commission last fall. Rates would be rising about 32 percent overall, whether there was a cash flow issue or not.

Barrilleaux said that even with a possible rate increase, Madison’s water rates are in line with the state average for mid-size to large water utilities.

Madison Water Utility said it’s been serving the city for 136 years. Crews maintain 22 wells sites, five water towers, eight large ground level reservoirs, six stand-alone pumping stations, 18,792 street valves and nearly 900 miles of water main.

“We ask that (our crews) be allowed to carry out their critical work and the utility’s mission without fear of harassment,” Barrilleaux said.

Anyone with questions about the possible revenue increase can call 608-266-4651.