Healy PSC Petition
Posted November 03, 2011
The City of Milwaukee has announced plans to build a fixed 2.1 street car line in downtown Milwaukee. General construction of the $64.6 million rail line would be funded by $55 million in federal transit aid (previously allocated twenty years ago) and $9.7 million in tax-incremental financing district funds. Supporters assert that rider fares, downtown parking fees and advertising revenue will cover the $2.65 million annual operating cost. The Milwaukee Common Council has approved the project although they have withheld the release of funding for the project pending additional information.
However there are other costs associated with the line. Construction will require the modification and relocation of underground utility facilities such as cables and gas and transmission lines. In response to an initial inquiry by two state legislators, the state Public Service Commission (“PSC”) estimated these costs at somewhere between $55 and $70 million dollars.
On behalf of Brett Healy, a utility rate payer who lives outside of the City of Milwaukee, WILL has filed a petition for a declaratory judgment with the PSC seeking a declaratory ruling that these costs must be borne by the City of Milwaukee and not by ratepayers living throughout southeastern Wisconsin. If the residents of Milwaukee want this streetcar—which will, at best, benefit a small number of residents, businesses and tourists in Milwaukee—then they should decide whether it is worth paying for.