Village increases sewer, water rates for upcoming repairs

By: 
Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

BELLAIRE – After approving a motion to send a formal letter to the USDA Rural Development Agency declining a loan for a cancelled sewer project during its monthly business meeting last week, the Bellaire Village Council also approved motions to increase water and sewer rates.

The additional funds will be used to fund a major water line improvement project scheduled to begin next year that is being required by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (formerly DEQ), as well as pay for needed sewer repairs and a $209,000 bond the Council agreed to obtain to pay back a note acquired for engineering costs of the now-defunct sewer project.

"Now that we're not doing the sewer project, or taking the loan from the USDA that would have paid for that note, we need to pay that back," explained Bellaire Village Clerk Cathy Odom. A motion to do so put forth by village trustee Trish Drollinger, supported by Eldon McPherson, was approved unanimously.

The decision to increase both sewer and water rates came after Odom told council that rates could be increased village-wide, through a special assessment district, or by using both options.

"The Michigan Rural Water Association, which is advising us on this water project, suggested the special assessment district," said Odom, adding that she is still obtaining information on a special assessment district's merits.

"He said that an assessment district would cost homeowners less," she added.

"But with a special assessment, the guy in the big house is going to pay more than the guy in the little house, even if they use the same amount of water," noted trustee David Ciganick.

"The village could also go with a combination of both a rate increase and a special district," Odom said, adding that she will have more information on the subject in January, when the village will have to make decisions on the matter.

"It might be a good idea to hold a public information meeting on all of this as well," she said.

Ciganick echoed that sentiment.

"That would be a good idea," he stated. "But we need to do something now, or our budget is going to get clobbered; we should have raised our rates six months ago."

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Bellaire, MI 49615
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