City Commission approves rate amendments

BIG RAPIDS — Water was on board members’ minds during the Big Rapids City Commission meeting, as many action items focused on water and wastewater rates and backflow inspections.

While their water rates should remain the same, city residents may soon see an increase in what they pay for wastewater as commissioners approved rate amendments on Monday.

“No one wants their rates increase but costs go up over time,” said City Manager Mark Gifford. “Water and sewer are important commodities that we all enjoy. We work hard at keeping costs down and I think we have done a good job of that. Unfortunately, they have to go up slightly this year.”

City Treasurer Aaron Kuhn explained the commodity rates for water have not changed from last year’s $6.15 per 1,000 gallons of water used for residential customers. This means, for example, in homes or businesses with a 5/8-inch meter, the price for water would remain the same at approximately $28 each month. Institutional customers however may pay a little bit more.

Sewer users will be charged $7 per 1,000 gallons of use, which is the equivalent of approximately a $4 increase to wastewater bills for homes or businesses with a 5/8-inch meter. Users previously were charged $6.27 per 1,000 gallons of use. For some residents, this could increase their wastewater bill from $29 to $33 each month.

“Wastewater rates comprise of a base cost and a volumetric cost,” Kuhn said. “The base cost is a fixed monthly amount users pay to ensure enough revenue is generated to cover that service and administrative expenses. The volumetric cost is a unit cost paid by the customer based on their given usage.”

Kuhn explain the amendment is part of the city’s five-year transition to lower its base costs.

“These annual adjustments are made and allow us to take into account new users that go online with water and sewer, and there will be new users,” Mayor Mark Warba said. “Maybe in a year’s time users will see a tempering of the rates because the number of water and wastewater users are increasing.”

Commissioners approved the rate change, which will begin July 1, 2017.

Another water-related item commissioners approved involved a three-year contract for inspections.

HydroCorp was awarded its bid of $21,700 annually to for its three-year Cross Connection Control Program. The program will provide backflow prevention device inspections for residential, commercial and institutional locations with lawn irrigation, as well as properties with external city water.

In other business, commissioners approved:

  • Extending an agreement with Biotech Agronomics Inc. for biosolid removal and disposal at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. The agreement is a 2.6 percent increase to $0.0384 per pound of biosolid removed from $0.0374 per pound of biosolid removed.
  • Moving a “No Parking” sign on Oak Street, near the intersection with S. Warren Street, back 20 feet from its current location to provide more visibility for commuters.
  • Planning Commission recommendations for a text change in parking regulations. The new text would would require future developments to provide one parking space per bedroom for single dwelling units, duplexes and multi-family dwellings.
  • Dial-A-Ride Department of Transportation Controlled Substances and Alcohol Testing Program .
  • Adopting the Big Rapids General Appropriations Act for the 2017-18 fiscal year.
  • Amending the Roben-Hood Airport minimum standards, which describe acceptable expectations of commerce at the airport.
  • Department of Public Safety Director Jim Eddinger to apply for a Department of Justice grant. Grant monies would be used for a force simulator, which would be used to train DPW and Ferris State University incoming officers, as well as show citizens how quickly an incident can escalate.
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Posted by Meghan Gunther-Haas

Meghan is the education reporter for the Pioneer and Herald Review. She can be reached at (231) 592-8382 or by email at mhaas@pioneergroup.com.

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