February 19, 2014 - Independence Township Board of Trustees approved almost doubling sewer rates for local mobile homes residents.
The Clintonvilla Mobile Home Park rate increase will be applied to 180 units of both single and double wide homes. In Independence Woods, the new rate will affect double wide units only.
Township Treasurer Paul Brown said there are many regular homes in the township that are smaller than mobile homes.
Brown said there are about 1,400 homes in the township 1,200 or less in square footage—smaller than many of today's mobile homes.
The new rates as of January are $97.37 per home unit. Previously mobile homes were paying about 60 percent of what a regular home paid, or about $43, regardless of size of the mobile home.
The total increase will cost mobile home occupants and additional $13 a month or about $39 per quarter.
In 1998 when Independence Township adopted the Oakland County Schedule of Unit Assignment Factors as a guide to assigning sewer rates, the guide assigned a lower rates to manufactured homes.
Previously mobile homes were billed at 0.60 percent of an REU while regular homes were billed at 1 REI.
Brown said while the rates may have been right then—they are off now because of increasingly large mobile homes.
"The idea that mobile homes don't use as much sewer service is outdated said Brown. "Why were they getting a 400 percent subsidy when other homes were not."
Brown said there are 640 mobile homes in the Township of which about 535 are occupied. The increased rates will which will lead to a 10 percent decrease in a nearly $1 million budget shortfall.
"Now we have some mobile homes that are as large if not larger than some normal homes in the Township, yet they were paying a lower rate," said Brown.
In January, the Township Board approved a 17 percent increase in sewer rates for 2014 in order to help curb budget shortfalls and prepare to finance maintenance projects.
Brown said 10 percent of the sewer budget shortfall was due to unfair rates applied to mobile homes. "They account for 5 percent of our customers, but 10 percent, or about $80,000 of our shortfall."
Mobile homes will now be paying the same sewer rates as every other home in the township. In previous years, the township had subsidized sewer rates but could not continue doing so.
"We are just trying to stop the bleeding," said Township Supervisor Pat Kittle adding that even with changes the Township faces a $700,000 net operating loss.
Kittle said rates had to be increased because of projects mandated by Oakland County as well as increased costs from Detroit Water and Sewage.
Staff writer covering Independence Township and Clarkston area.