Big Rapids Township raises sewer rates, approves new water meters

SEWER RATES: Big Rapids Township Supervisor Bill Stanek and Trustee Richard Jensen discuss amending the township sewer rates. (Pioneer photo/Dan Meloy)

SEWER RATES: Big Rapids Township Supervisor Bill Stanek and Trustee Richard Jensen discuss amending the township sewer rates. (Pioneer photo/Dan Meloy)

BIG RAPIDS TWP. — The price of wastewater service in Big Rapids Township just went up, as the Big Rapids Township Board of Trustees try to solve a budget shortfall more than $40,000 in the sewer fund.

Trustees voted 4-1 Tuesday to amend the township sewer rates, with Trustee Richard Jensen opposing the measure.

Effective immediately, the base rate of $8 per 1,000 gallons of meter water used and $4.96 for the city commodity charge will remain the same, but the commodity charge for the township portion of residents’ water bills will increase from $2.56 to $3.76. Customers who are charged a flat rate will see an increase from $29.75 to $32.75 per month.

Supervisor Bill Stanek said the increase in rates is meant to erase a $40,213 deficit in the township sewer fund.

“With these increases, we will generate $40,000 a year to cover system expenses,” Stanek said. “We actually lowered rates four years ago, when the city raised theirs, and we are now raising the rates just above where they were.”

Stanek reported the township has been losing money on the sewer system each year, and raising rates will make the sewer fund solvent.

Jensen opposed the resolution, citing the 46 percent increase in the township commodity charge.

“I’d like to see a better way to solve the problem than raise the rate almost 50 percent,” Jensen said.

Stanek said residents’ bills will not increase 46 percent, since the township charge is only one factor of a user’s bill.

With the rate changes, a resident’s sewer bill will increase from $15.52 per 1,000 gallons used to $16.72 per 1,000 gallons used, a 7.7 percent overall increase.

Trustees also voted 4-1 to upgrade the township’s water meters to self-reading electronic meters, which will allow customers to monitor their uses in real time.

Stanek received an estimate from Mark Gifford, Big Rapids Department of Public Works director, stating it would cost the township $45,848 to upgrade the township’s 141 meters.

Right now, the township is paying $218 a month for personnel to read the meters. Stanek believes the investment will pay off in the long run.

“The chances of the price of the equipment going down are slim, but the chances of the price of equipment going up are pretty good,” Stanek said. “So it’s better to buy now. The utility committee recommended the purchase.”

Jensen voted against the measure, citing it would take the township 17 years to recoup on the investment while saving $218 a month on meter readers.

“You look at the numbers of how much the township would save, and it would take 17 years to make up the saving,” Jensen said. “Will these meters last 17 years?”

“It won’t be a quick payback,” Stanek said. “But we will no longer have people running around checking the meters, and in the long run that will be a cost saver. We are still working out the details on who will own the meters, but I’d love to see the city own them all. That way, the city would be responsible for maintenance costs.”

 

Leave a Reply