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Supervisor says sewer rates must increase

January 01, 2014 - Independence Township Supervisor Pat Kittle has been busy making big plans for 2014.

The bad news is sewer rates will likely be increased in the new year.

"I know where the township will end up unless the sewer and water rates are increased," said Kittle. "It's going to be close to a $1 million loss in the sewer department in 2013 that the township has subsidizing out of the township's general fund. We have not been passing the expenses onto the residents.

"I also have a $300,000 bad guy coming at me in uncontrollable expenses between Detroit sewage treatment costs and other projects," he said.

Kittle said the $300,000 represents just 10 percent of the revenue the township takes in from sewer bills, and any rate rate increase still does not even address the $1 million dollar deficit.

Kittle said costs include infrastructure projects that cannot be avoided, and at the minimum rates must be increased by 10 percent.

Sewer rates are billed quarterly, or every three months, and cost about $83.

A five percent rate increase will amount to about $4 every three months while residents will pay $8.30 for a 10 percent increase. If rates are increased by 20 percent residents will pay a little over $16 more every three months or just over $5 a month.

At a Jan. 7 township trustee meeting, the findings from an analysis of the townships water and sewer department studies are planned to be discussed.

Kittle said recommendations will be presented to discuss what needs to be done to address the deficits.

"We need to start to get some air under our wings and tighten the tourniquet to stop some of the financial bleeding occurring with the fund," he said.

"They will have all the projections to show us where the funds are dipping to where the township starts to violate it's own reserve policy."

Kittle said during the Jan. 7 meeting, officials will come up with a consensus, and he expects a vote t raise rates will occur at a second meeting in January.

"We take the vote to raise rates as to how much the rates will go up," he said. "We can't keep subsidizing. We have to have money in cash reserves to deal with a major breakdown in the system or other unforeseen emergencies so that the township would not have to borrow for repairs."

Staff writer covering Independence Township and Clarkston area.
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