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Alpena Township privatizes water operations

Courtesy Photo F&V Operations and Resource Management employees do some maintenance work in Alpena Township recently.

ALPENA TOWNSHIP — The Alpena Township Board of Trustees voted unanimously today to privatize the township’s water and sewer operations beginning Monday.

The township will sign a five-year contract with the Grand Rapids-based F&V Operations and Resource Management.

Trustees also approved a letter of understanding with the Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council, which represents three township employees who will likely be absorbed by F&V.

The new deal will cost the township $642,000 a year, $250,000 of which will go directly into maintenance and improvement projects. That’s what the township spends now for those types of responsibilities.

Any money that is unused will be rolled over to the next year. Any costs beyond $250,000 will be covered by the township.

Township Supervisor Nathan Skibbe said the township will save between $40,000 and $50,000 a year with the new deal.

The township collected $3 million in revenue for its Water and Sewer Fund in its 2019 fiscal year, according to its annual audit, mostly from charges for services. It spent about $3.4 million, including nearly $265,000 for employee wages and benefits.

The move is not expected to affect the township’s ongoing court fight with the City of Alpena over water and sewer rates, Skibbe told The News previously. The township purchases water from the city.

F&V has already had several employees working with the township and the firm has a good grasp on the township’s system, officials said.

F&V said it will have a member of management available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week at the township office to address any customer issues or needs.

“I think we have done our due diligence to bring forth a solid document,” Skibbe said. “We worked hard and everyone is on the same page.”

Skibbe said the deal with F&V hinged on reaching an agreement with the township’s employees. The letter of understanding approved today states that the township had met all expectations of the current contract, and bargained in good faith.

Skibbe said the employees will be laid off by the township, but will have first right of refusal and first crack at their positions after the interview process with F&V.

“That is the way the employees wanted it,” Skibbe said.

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