2013-06-13 / Front Page

Water, sewer rates could see increase

Usage decreases, city council considers hike

MANISTIQUE – Water and sewer rates may rise again this year. The increase was discussed as Manistique City Council members reviewed the proposed 2014 fiscal year budget during Monday’s meeting.

According to City Manager Sheila Aldrich, the rate increases are directly linked to a decrease in usage.

“People have done a very good job at conserving water,” she said. “Unfortunately, the expenses aren’t going down the same as the water (usage).”

Last year’s budget anticipated water sales of $568,775, but the current amount collected is only $457,303.01. The city’s 2012-13 fiscal year ends on June 30, Aldrich explained, leaving that portion of the water budget with far less than expected.

On the sewer side of the budget, circumstances are similar, she added, with $670,000 anticipated last year, and only $527,619.60 coming in to date. Aldrich noted the increased cost of sludge disposal – the company is charging more to haul it away because of fuel prices – is also putting a strain on the sewer budget.

The only capital improvement planned at the sewer plant is a methane burner fix.

“The one thing that we have told the regulatory agencies that we would get going is that methane burner that we have at the plant,” she said. “They’ve kind of given us a ‘pass’ on it, but that pass is coming to an end, and they want us to get that running again.”

There are no capital improvements planned at the water plant.

“It’s wages and salaries and chemicals and what it’s going to take to run the plant,” she said.

Aldrich explained increases in usage, not base rates, would be needed to offset expenses and decreased usage.

“What he (Corey Barr, water/ waste water superintendent) was advocating in this one, to offset the reduction in sales, was .85 per 1,000 (increase),” Aldrich said, referring to the water.

An increase of .53 cents per 1,000 gallons was proposed for the sewer rates. The total would be $1.53 added to each resident’s bill per 1,000 used of both water and sewer.

Last year, residents were subjected to a $3.14 increase in the water base fee, and a $2.82 increase in the sewer base fee.

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