2013-10-31 / Front Page

Utility policy to see change

Voluntary disconnect no longer an option

MANISTIQUE – The city’s utility disconnect is changing. Due to wording in a USDA Rural Development agreement, the Manistique City Council rescinded the policy that had been in place since 2009.

During their regular meeting Monday, council was updated by City Manager Sheila Aldrich about a policy that conflicted with stipulations put into place by the RD agency. Aldrich explained she and water/waste water superintendent Cory Barr recently met with USDA Rural Development area specialist Duane Reid, who expressed concern about the city’s policy.

“In the course of meeting with us, it came to light that we had put into place this disconnect policy upon which Mr. Reid from Rural Development, indicated to us that our loans did not allow that,” she said.

Aldrich said the wording of the loans, in particular, the “Letter of Intent to Meet Conditions”, which was signed by the mayor whenever the city borrowed funds from the agency, contradicts the policy.

“In the ‘letter of condition’ that had been signed by the mayor … said that we would vigorously enforce the flat fee for all customers,” she said. “He (Reid) strongly suggested that we reverse that policy.”

The utility disconnect policy, approved on Dec. 14, 2009 states: “The city of Manistique will allow its customers to have the option of continuing with the standard current base fee or a turn on and turn off fee with removal of the meter.

With the second option, the customer would no longer have a base fee and would be required to pay a fee of $100 for the turn off for the service and removal of the meter, and a fee of $150 for the turn on of the service and reinstallation of the meter.”

According to Barr, the city has four water bonds and one sewer bond through the USDA RD.

“The far-reaching implications … is, not only can it affect future grant and loan dollars, it could affect our current bonds,” he said.

Barr made the recommendation to rescind the policy in order to be in compliance with the agreements with the agency. He noted that, currently, approximately 12 residents take advantage of the policy.

Most are those who leave for the winters, Barr added.

Councilperson Dan Evonich asked if Reed would submit a letter specifically asking for this change to guard against any public reaction to the rescinding. Attorney John Filoramo agreed to make the request, but noted the stipulation was plainly stated in the RD paperwork.

Councilpersons Rick Hollister and Jan Jeffcott voted to rescind the policy, while Evonich cast the sole “no” vote. Mayor and councilperson Dave Peterson was absent.

City water and sewer customers will be notified about the change on the next water bill and notices will also appear in the Pioneer Tribune.

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