2012-05-06 / News

Resident tells Chesaning Village Council - water rate increase is needed

BY JEANNE MARCELLO STAFF REPORTER


CHESANING TEACHER AMONG 15 FINALISTS IN MID MICHIGAN -- Big Rock Elementary School second grade teacher Krista Hudak is one of 15 mid- Michigan teachers nominated for WSMH Fox 66’s Golden Apple Award. Hudak was nominated for the award by Amy Wilson. In her nomination, Wilson stated, “Hudak is a very outgoing and loving teacher. She personally goes over and above with each and every one of her students. My son and several other students started the year off behind where they should have been for their grade level. She made it her mission to catch them up and took them under her wing. She works hard every single day to make sure her kids are getting everything possible out of their education. Could not ask for a more dedicated and loving teacher.” Winners are selected through online voting. To vote, visit www.wsmh.com and locate the Golden Apple Award contest. Votes will be accepted until 11:59 p.m., May 31. CHESANING TEACHER AMONG 15 FINALISTS IN MID MICHIGAN -- Big Rock Elementary School second grade teacher Krista Hudak is one of 15 mid- Michigan teachers nominated for WSMH Fox 66’s Golden Apple Award. Hudak was nominated for the award by Amy Wilson. In her nomination, Wilson stated, “Hudak is a very outgoing and loving teacher. She personally goes over and above with each and every one of her students. My son and several other students started the year off behind where they should have been for their grade level. She made it her mission to catch them up and took them under her wing. She works hard every single day to make sure her kids are getting everything possible out of their education. Could not ask for a more dedicated and loving teacher.” Winners are selected through online voting. To vote, visit www.wsmh.com and locate the Golden Apple Award contest. Votes will be accepted until 11:59 p.m., May 31. CHESANING – During their May 1 meeting, the Chesaning Village Council held a public hearing about proposed water and sewer rate increases along with a new capital improvement fee for water service.

Village President Joe Sedlar, Jr. invited the few residents who appeared to comment on the proposed increases. However, they wanted to hear what council members had to say first.

Sedlar stated, “Personally, I disagree with it. We obviously need some increases since we lost $40,000 last year.”

Councilman Paul Gross said, “We had to increase our rates some. We had recommendations from the head of the DPW.”

From the audience, resident Dale Tithoff stated, “The only way we can do this is to increase rates. As a homeowner on Fourth Street (which is still waiting to have it’s water line looped back into the system) I am still willing to pay more. I’m in favor of paying more money as a taxpayer.”

Councilman Bill Boyd pointed out that years ago the council had started a capital improvement fund for the sewer system.

But that money must be used for sewer projects only. It cannot be used to pay for water improvements which are needed; such as restoration of the water tower, and drilling a new well to replace one of the existing wells.

Councilwoman Julie Zubek explained that they need to have a capital improvement fund for the water water system. It’s long overdue.

Tithoff asked why the village has a $40,000 deficit in the water fund.

Boyd simply said, “Repairs.”

Sedlar added, “The rates were too low. I’m against a capital improvement fund until we have a plan.”

Councilman Michael Cicalo commented, “I’m the opposite of Joe. I’m in favor of the capital improvement [fee], but not the water rate increase.”

There was discussion about the trend in water usage among Chesaning water customers. Water usage has decreased substantially in recent years, before leveling off in the past few years.

Zubek explained that many things have changed that affect water usage. Washing machines use less water. Toilets also use less water than before.

Councilman Don Swartzmiller talked about his support of the [$3 average] fee on monthly water bills. “We’re in the business of selling water,” he expressed a preference for keeping water rates low and selling more water. “I was hoping for a straight $3 capital improvement fee. I want it to start as soon as possible so we can generate the money [for improvements],” Swartzmiller added.

Boyd asked Swartzmiller if he was looking to use that $3 capital improvement fee for leveraging for grants and match funds.

Swartzmiller replied, “Yes.”

Sedlar interjected, “We’re losing 25-30 percent of our water. We don’t know where it’s going.”

Swartzmiller responded, “When we get the money, it gives us the opportunity to redo the water when funding is available.”

A man in the audience identified only as Bill, suggested they get a plan out to people before the increase.

Boyd explained that years ago the village council had gotten plans together for improvements that need to be made. “We’ve got the plans, but they die on the vine because we don’t have the money.”

Cicalo talked about some of the water projects on their “wish list” -- a new well, and looping the water system on Fourth Street.

Cicalo felt that the work that needs to be performed on the water tower should be funded through maintenance portion of the water budget.

Gross commented, “We’ve got plans, we don’t have the money.”

Zubek said, “We would have to start somewhere. We can’t do it all at once.”

Councilman Damion Frasier commented, “We’re behind the eight-ball already.”

Bill (audience) said, “Let’s get it started so [the price] won’t go up! If you don’t get it started its going to go up again and again. It should be done now.”

Swartzmiller responded, “If [capital improvement fees] started at $3, it would still take six months to get the engineering and financing.”

Zubek stated, “That capital improvement fee only comes to $3,000 a month. Where does that get us?”

Bill (audience) commented, “You’re going to forget about the looping [of the water system] when you get your money because you’ve got the water tower and well to drill.”

Frasier responded, “It would be maintenance on the water tower. It’s beyond maintenance.”

Sedlar reasoned that the increases are not much when you break it down. But when you add it up that’s about $6 added to the monthly water bill.

Tithoff commented, “I’m here to say, ‘So what? It’s $6 a month.’”

Frasier said, “The longer you put it off, the bigger the number gets. The problem is we don’t have much choice.”

Tithoff agreed, “Even people who are struggling want good water quality.”

Citizen Jack Abernathy asked, “Did you really look at [operating] efficiency?”

Frasier responded, “The majority of our costs are fixed. Our employees haven’t had raises in...” Boyd said “seven years.” Frasier added that employees are now paying close to 30 percent of their healthcare insurance. “The only part we can control; I think we did pretty good.”

Sedlar explained, “By doing what we’ve done, we’ve been able to maintain a fairly stable workforce. We need to maintain the system.”

Boyd expressed concern that every time they break ground a pipe cracks. If they don’t increase costs now, they keep the water fund going in the hole.

Frasier commented, “We can’t wait to get water loss under control.”

Tithoff asked, “Is the council reluctant to raise the rates? In any case, we need an increase in fees to get things taken care of, whether it’s maintenance or capital improvements.”

Return to top

Copyright © 2009-2018 Tri-County Citizen, All Rights Reserved