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Water rates set to increase for Alpena residents

Courtesy Photo Residents in Alpena will see a small increase in water bills this summer, as the city approved a $0.30 per 1,000 combined increase. The move was made due to increased demand and operations cost.

ALPENA — Residents in Alpena will see a slight increase on their water bills beginning this summer.

At Monday’s Alpena Municipal Council meeting, council voted to raise water and sewer rates 0.30 cents per 1,000 gallons of each.

The rates, beginning July 1, will be $6.65 per 1,000 gallons, and $6.79 per 1,000 gallons for sewer services. Additional fees are also on the bill.

City Engineer Rich Sullenger said increases in the cost of operations, demand, and a need for capital improvements require a fee hike. He said the fact Alpena Township is paying much less than city customers also resulted in a large loss of revenue needed to cover infrastructure projects.

Sullenger said if the township, which still pays $4.05 per 1,000 gallons for water, and $3.75 per 1,000 gallons for sewer, paid the new rate, the system as a whole would generate a touch over $3.6 million. Instead, only about $1.2 million will be received.

The city and township have been in litigation for many years over water rates, and the township has continued to pay old rates. Both sides were in court Monday, and there are ongoing talks about forming a water authority, but few details about the possible endeavour are currently known.

The township adds its own fees for its water customers, who pay more than what the municipality does.

Sullenger said that is a lot of lost revenue that could be used to improve the water system and two plants.

“It is directly impacting our ability to do capital projects,” he said.

The use of water and sewer has increased over the last several years. Sullenger said there has been an average 3.95% increase in billed volumes combined for water and sewer in 2020-21, and used a five-year average of billed volumes to help establish the new rates for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

There were no increases to the Ready to Serve charge, operations fee, debt service charge, or the other various feess customers see on their quarterly bill.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached at 989-358-5689 at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ss_alpenanews.com.

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