Alpena Township increases water rates
ALPENA — Residents who utilize water and sewer services in Alpena Township will see a slight increase on their upcoming water bills.
Township officials say the increase is needed to cover increasing expenses and to maintain the viability of the water and sewer systems.
For many customers, their quarterly bill will increase about $7.14 a quarter, or $28.56 a year, for customers who use a minimum 7,000 gallons of water and 7,000 gallons of sewer. Higher consumptions will lead to higher billing amounts.
Discussions on a new billing method that could better align the township’s billing process with the City of Alpena’s method may happen in the future, township officials said.
On Monday, the township board of trustees voted to update its water and sewer ordinance to reflect the increases.
The rates for water consumption will increase from $10.07 per 1,000 gallons to $10.54, while sewer will be bumped up from $10.54 per 1,000 gallons to $11.06.
Customers who only have sewer services are charged $11.06 per 1,000 gallons with a minimum charge of 18,000 gallons every three months.
Supervisor Nathan Skibbe said most customers in the township use about 7,000 gallons of water and sewer. He said the price hike was needed to keep the water and sewer systems operating as they should.
“Prices have gone up astronomically,” Skibbe said. “Raw material costs have gone up about 30%, and things like labor are rising, too. Everything has increased. This will help to maintain the infrastructure and make sure the functionality remains efficient into the future.”
The trustees voted 6-0 to approve the increases, with treasurer Laura Somers being absent from the meeting.
Skibbe said currently the township does not charge its customers ready-to-serve fees — fixed charges that cover a portion of the costs for maintaining the treatment and delivery systems and administrative functions. The charges appear on a bill for both water and sewer and do not vary with consumption. He said a decision to implement a ready-to-serve charge is not imminent, but could be considered down the road.
If a ready-to-serve fee was added to water and sewer bills, the 7,000 gallon threshold would be eliminated and customers would only be charged for what they actually use.
Skibbe said having some uniformity with the city’s rate method could make billing issues simpler if the two municipalities form a water authority.
Alpena and Alpena Township have been in litigation since 2014 over water rates, but recently-made progress led to the two parties agreeing to a draft agreement to form a water authority.
The agreement is awaiting review by a consultant, who will also conduct a rate study.
Combined, nearly $2 million has been spent on consultant and attorney fees by the two governments during the litigation.
“It would definitely make things a lot more linear, but that is a future conversation the board will have,” Skibbe said.
The City of Alpena adds a ready-to-serve charge on customers’ quarterly bills for both water and sewer. Currently, customers pay a $15 ready-to-serve charge for a one-inch line for each water and sewer, and the fee escalated by the size of the pipe to $750 each for a six-inch line.
Those prices could climb as the city sorts through its revenues and expenses for the 2022-23 budget.
Quarterly Minimum Water & Sewer Bill (7,000 gallons)
Minimum Water Usage Billing- $73.99
Minimum Sewer Billing – $77.42
Billing Charge – $5
Infiltration Charge – $5
Minimum Quarterly Total- $161.41
Source: Alpena Township
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that most Alpena Township water customers will see an increase of $28.56 a year on their water bills. That figure was incorrect in an earlier version of this story.