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Sewer bills going up for township



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April 24, 2013 - Township residents could pay 7 to 8 percent more for sewer services to pay for a new sewer system to Pontiac. According to the Chief Engineer of the Water Resources Commissioner's Office, Tim Prince, diversion to Pontiac will cost $24.4 million.

Independence Township's portion of the cost will be $1,886,400 with $461,860 interest. Construction of the retention tank will cost COSDS $19.3 million, and Independence's portion will be $1,465,214. Total bill to the township will be $3,813,474.

The Independence Township Board of Trustees considered two Clinton-Oakland Sewage Disposal System (COSDS) contracts during their meeting on April 16.

One contract is a Perry Street Diversion Contract, which will allow construction of a new retention tank and divert flow to the Pontiac interceptor.

As a result of the project, Prince said the rate COSDS charges Independence will increase approximately 10 percent per year for three years (July 2014 through June 2017).

COSDS will use $7.5 million of its reserve fund to offset some of the cost over the three years and will not add to their reserve fund during that time.

The reason these projects are needed is because communities in Oakland County have been exceeding flow, which means "there's not enough capacity in the pipe to handle the flow coming from the communities," said Prince. "When that occurs, basically sanitary sewage comes out of the manholes and runs down the street, or it runs in a lake or it runs in the river."

Diverting flow to Pontiac and building a new retention tank will increase Independence Township's flow from 8.8 Cubic Feet per Second (CFS) to 13.07 CFS. The increased capacity should be enough to last 40 years into the future, Prince said. The project would correct current and future flow capacity issues and construction would begin this fall and last until the winter of 2016.

The second contract the Township Board considered was an intermunicipal contract, which will replace the contract Independence Township signed in 1967 that has since been amended and scheduled to expire in 2017.

The previous contract included a flat rate of 8.8 CFS. The new contract includes a "True-up" provision, which will base Independence Township's rate on actual flow rather than the flat rate. If the Township has a decreased flow, they will be credited for what they do not use; however, if the township goes over the allotted flow, they will pay for the extra flow needed.

Other communities in Oakland County have been asked to sign the same agreements with COSDS.

As a result of the new contracts, Public Works Director Linda Richardson anticipates residents will see their rates increase about 7 to 8 percent; however, until a rate study is completed this year, the change to current rates is not yet determined. Independence Township residents currently pay $83.20 quarterly for sewer. On April 16, the board voted unanimously to pay Bendzinski and Company up to $8,000 to conduct a water and sewer rate study. The last rate study was conducted in 2004.

For COSDS to qualify for grants to help cover the cost of these projects, communities have been asked to sign the contracts by May 16. The Board of Trustees will decide if they will sign off on the contracts at their next meeting on May 14 at 7 p.m. at Township Hall.

Clarkston News reporter
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