FOX CROSSING, Wis. (WFRV) – Residents on Butte Des Morts Beach Rd. have a great view of a marsh and the surrounding wildlife on Little Lake Butte Des Morts. They also have to pay up to $40,000 for pipes they do not want.
“We like it here, we love the view of the lake,” Sandy Schwemer said. “My portion of (the construction project) is about $40,000. And I definitely don’t have that in my back pocket.”
Schwemer, a dental assistant, moved into her house on Butte Des Morts Beach Rd. in Dec. 2021 after it had been gutted. The worker who did that, who goes by Jim S., put in a new septic tank.
Flash forward to Monday morning, and the municipal parkway along the road was being torn up to install water and sewer lines. This would give Schwemer and her neighbors, as well as Stroebe Island residents, access to municipal water and sewage systems instead of the wells and septic tanks they currently have.
Only residents on the mainland are being charged because, according to Fox Crossing Utilities superintendent David Tracey, the Stroebe Island properties’ fees were paid by the developers when they were assessed.
“(Stroebe Island lots) had already been assessed when they were developed, and that’s when they paid for their share of the project,” Tracey said.
The total project costs more than $488,000, and Schwemer and her four neighbors are paying $152,000 of it. The rest is taken care of by those assessment fees. Tracey said that residents can pay the sum immediately or over the course of 15 years on their tax roll.
The residents on Butte Des Morts Beach Rd. have the option to connect to the water and sewer lines being put in, but they have to pay for that labor themselves. Schwemer said that she received estimates around $25,000 for that, and that because her septic system is less than two years old and will likely last another 15, it is not necessary.
“I could spend my lifetime and not have to hook up into this because, my septic, it’s new,” she said. “When (the contractor that renovated my house) found out that, nope, (the village) had no plans in the future to put in a new sewer, then he said, ‘okay. I’m going to put in a new septic system.’”
But Tracey said that there is no record of a permit being obtained to put in a new septic tank, otherwise his office would have worked with the resident to figure out if that was the best course of action.
“Each one of these people have a responsibility for when they do projects that they have to contact us to get a permit,” Tracey said. “When somebody informs us, we would go ahead and work with them as much as possible and then work with getting a water and sewer main in front of them.”
But Schwemer and Jim say Tracey is wrong.
“They’re not telling the truth,” Jim said. “I got all the permits and papers needed.”
No matter what the truth is, the fact remains that Schwemer does not have the money to pay her share of the project.
“I don’t have spare money laying around and can say, ‘oh yeah, I’ve got thousands of dollars to put toward this or put toward that.’ Because I don’t.”