ALPENA - The Alpena Township Board of Trustees passed a resolution at a special meeting Monday night to increase water and sewer rates to township residents. This increase is based on a notice from the City of Alpena stating it has established new water and sewer rates to the township effective May 1. The township will be adding the additional rates to the charges already established by the township in 2011.
An additional $2.10 will be added per 1,000 gallons of water on quarterly charges. The increase in quarterly sewer charges will be $2.09 per 1,000 gallons used. These rates and charges will take effect June 1.
The resolution calling for the collection of the additional funds also states that "the additional charges will not be paid to the city, but will be deposited in a separate township account."
"We're trying to protect ourselves so that if we end up in court over this or we end up agreeing with the city at some point, I don't see how, we would want to make sure if we were told we had to give them that money, that we would have it in house to be able to do that," Township Supervisor Marie Twite said. "It is a big imposition on our residents."
During a public hearing about the increase Monday, residents expressed concern over the collection of the funds, the 30 percent increase in charges and the township keeping the funds in an account for protection. Twite said any funds remaining in the account after any settlement with the city will be refunded to the township account holders on a volumetric basis in accordance with amounts billed and paid.
"The township is proposing it is going to take that amount of money that the rates would be increased to the township by the city," township attorney James Florip said. "Then the township would have money available in case it has to pay some or more of the city's rate increase. They are calling it a provisional rate increase."
Florip assured the residents present that the money would not be used, and would not be paid to the city, but would stay in the separate account until the issues between the city and township were resolved.
"That money will not be paid to the city. It will be deposited into a separate township account, and would be dependent upon what the final outcome is between the city and the township," he said. "To the extent that it is not used to have to pay any amount to the city, it will be refunded to township rate payers based upon rates that were charged and volumes that were charged while it was collected."
The township will not see the bill with the increased rates until the beginning of July, and will be paying only the rates it had previously to the city.
Twite said the township has around 2,300 residents, and a chart will have to be organized to keep track of the increases on the bills. She also said the township is looking at a way to show the additional charges separate from the previous costs of water and sewer so customers can see what the additional charges total.
"I think that the city and the township will continue to negotiate in a fair manner and in good faith, and look at how to resolve these issues," Twite said.
Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.