Bloomfield Township residents in 2020 will see a 4.29 percent increase in overall water rates and a seven percent increase in sewer rates under proposed changes approved on Monday, April 22, by the township's board of trustees.
The increases – which are based on a combination of flat rates and variable charges from the Southeastern Oakland County Water Authority (SOCWA) and Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner's Office, as well as water and sewer debt related to infrastructure – also include about $200,000 in legal fees incurred by the township related to a class action lawsuit brought against the township.
The rates were approved by a vote of 4-2, with trustees David Buckley and Dani Walsh opposing, and trustee Michael Schostak absent.
In March, Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Dan O'Brien awarded $5.4 million in damages in determining the township shouldn't have integrated water loss costs into operations and that it had overcharged sewer customers. The township is in the process of appealing the ruling. Trustee Buckley said he was under the impression that the legal fees couldn't be passed on to the public.
Variable water rates are based primarily on the amount of water used, which has seen an overall decrease over the past decade. Those rates, which are billed per 1,000 gallons of water used, will remain the same from 2019 to 2020. Flat-rate water charges, which include fixed expenses related to services outside of water usage, will increase by 25 percent, or $8.50 per quarter. The water debt will also increase by about 19.27 percent, or $2.10 per quarter.
Sewer rate increases include a 4.76 variable rate increase, or about 38 cents per 1,000 gallons used. Fixed service fees related to sewers will increase by 23.68 percent, or about $9 per quarter, with sewer debt increasing 7.96 percent, or $1.25, and flat rate fees by 4.77 percent, or $13.35 per customer.