DULUTH, Minn. -

Western Lake Superior Sanitary District (WLSSD) Board of Directors approved its 2017 operating and capital budgets at its regular Board meeting Monday night.

The budget includes 0% increase in wastewater costs over 2016 and 0% increase in the solid waste management fees collected to support solid waste programs.

"We've set a budget that reflects a careful balance between improving effectiveness and reliability while ensuring that both solid waste and wastewater rates remain affordable to local residents and the 17 communities and 4 major industries we serve," said WLSSD Executive Directors, Marianne Bohren.

"Most importantly, we've accomplished cost efficiencies without reducing services or compromising the environmental performance of our facilities."

WLSSD says that they had planned for electrical rates to increase, as Minnesota Power announced their increase in franchise fees in the City of Duluth. A 9% increase in electricity fees added $235,000 to their budget, but they worked to keep costs flat for customers. 

Since 2006, WLSSD has experienced more than 66% in increase in electricity costs, despite reducing electricity usage by about 18%. Electricity makes up around a third of costs in waste water treatment.

WLSSD's 10-year capital improvement plan also includes modernization of equipment that will further reduce WLSSD's electricity usage and projects that will move WLSSD toward energy self sufficiency.