Water and sewer customers in Rochester will see an increase in their water and sewer bills for 2018-19 under rates approved on Monday, August 13, by Rochester City Council members.
The increases, which will be about 4.2 percent for sewer services and between 2.6 percent and 4 percent for water customers, are mostly due to increased rates paid by the city to the Great Lakes Water Authority, through Shelby Township.
Rochester City Manager Blaine Wing said sewer services throughout the city are provided by the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA), with the system being billed by the Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner's Office (WRC).
"For the proposed pass through for the sewer component of the bill, the city received a 4.2 percent increase with the upcoming rates," Wing said.
Pass through fees are a term used for rate increases charged by the water and sewer utility that the city must pay. In turn, the city passes the increases directly to customers, rather than covering the cost for the customers and taking on additional expense.
Wing said the rates for industrial waste control, which is charged based on meter size to non-residential users, will decrease by about 37 percent. Both the residential increase and decrease in industrial sewer services are a pass through from rates charged by the GLWA and billed by the WRC.
There are two different water systems serving the city of Rochester, with the GLWA serving the majority of homes on the east side of the city (roughly east of Letica), and a city-run well system serving residents on the west side.
Customers who receive their water from the GLWA will see increases ranging from 2.6 percent to 3.1 percent, or between $4.43 and $12.83 per quarter, based on water use. Low-end users will see lower increases, with medium-end users seeing an increase of about 2.9 percent, or $7.23 per quarter.
Residents on the city's well-water system will see increases of about 2.8 percent, or $3.76 per quarter for low-end users, and 4 percent, or about $10.66 per quarter, for high-end users. Medium-range users will see increases of about 3.4 percent, or roughly $6.06 per quarter.
Wing said increases in the city's well-water system are related to an 11.6 percent increase in variable rates that are associated with capital improvements in the city's water treatment plant. Those improvements are separate from about $12 million in city-wide capital improvements planned over the next 10 years, which are being funded by a low-interest loan from the state, and which was approved in 2016.
For well customers, variable rates tied to capital improvements at the water treatment plant are blended with fixed rate prices, meaning the overall increase to well customers are between 2.8 percent and 4 percent.
City council members were also informed at the meeting that new statewide regulations tied to drinking water quality, including testing for PFAS/PFOS and lead, may impact rates in the future. However, those issues were not tied to the rate increases before council at the meeting on August 13.
Council voted 5-1 to approve the rate changes, with councilwoman Ann Peterson opposing the changes and Rochester Mayor Rob Ray absent.
"I sit up here and represent the taxpayer and residents, and their concerns," Peterson said, voicing her opposition to the fee increases. "They are not happy that we continually raise the rates every time we turn around."