Process a little more poop, make pure profit—no-brainer for the city, right? Wrong:
Before the commission officially acknowledged the request, Commissioner Dick Ericsson said officials should seriously consider whether it was proper for Madison to connect its utility system to a new customer located outside of the city limits. Ericsson said the city wanted to act as a good neighbor, but the commissioners would need to discuss where they would draw the line in connecting outside users to a municipal utility [Chuck Clement, "City Officials to Consider Providing Service to Lake County International," Madison Daily Leader, 2010.08.23].
I've wondered if the city would cut any breaks for Lake County International the way the city did for competitor James River Equipment for its efforts to expand jobs and economic activity in the greater Madison area. Lake County International is a Chamber of Commerce member, just like James River Equipment, contributing to efforts to improve the local business climate. Lake County International isn't even asking the city to pick up the costs for its infrastructure the way James River (or, for that matter, East River Electric) did. Lake County International would cover its own costs and increase city revenues. Given that the city has nearly maxed out its credit card on projects like the five-million-dollar loan to improve the wastewater treatment plant, the city shouuld be leap at the chance to bring in more revenue. Saying yes isn't a matter of being a "good neighbor"; it's just good business sense.
I suppose Lake Herman folks dreaming of a central sewer system might want to take notice of the city's hesitance to play ball with outsiders. Twelve years ago, a system running around the lake and then piping our waste straight to Madison for treatment was the closest thing to a financially feasible option Banner Engineering could dream up. Supporters have explained that Madison would only benefit: more users means more revenue for the city's sewer. But if a big business right on Madison's doorstep gets Commissioner Ericsson's wary eye, what chance would crotchety Lake Herman have of hooking a 200-property sewer system into Madison's poop processor?