Water and sewer customers in Bloomfield Hills will soon see an increase in their utility bills, as the city commission on Tuesday, June 11, approved an overall 4.4 percent average increase for the 2020 fiscal year, which begins on July 1.
Bloomfield Hills Finance Director Keith Francis said the average water customer will see a quarterly increase of about $19, or 4.5 percent, while the average sewer customer will see an increase of $11, or 4.2 percent. The combined increase will be about $30 per quarter, or 4.4 percent.
Francis said rates are based on analysis of rates charged by the Oakland County Water Resources Commission, which provides sewer services, and the Great Lakes Water Authority and the Southeastern Oakland County Water Authority (SOCWA), which provide water. The analysis is conducted by the city's planning and engineering consultant, Hubbell, Roth and Clark, Inc. (HRC).
According to the analysis, HRC looked at service provider costs and recommended a 2.1 percent increase in the commodity water rate. While the city's portion of the commodity charge will remain the same, the increase is due to pass-through rates from the suppliers. The city has collected a fixed charge per water bill to pay for ongoing water system replacement and maintenance programs by the city and county's water resources commission.
Further, the city was informed by the county that several pressure reducing valve facilities will require additional maintenance over the next two years. Additionally, the city's primary internal pressure reducing valve at Woodward and Long Lake needs to be replaced this fiscal year. Lastly, the last few phases of water main replacement will require additional funding in the next two years.
To address the needs, a $6-per-meter equivalent unit fixed charge increase was recommended to fund upcoming projects.
Sewer rates were also looked at in the analysis. Consultants found sewer rates to the city would increase 2.6 percent, with an overall net increase of 4.2 percent. The increase takes into account capital improvements in the system and a grant received by the city to prepare asset management plans for sanitary and storm sewer systems. The local match for that plan will need to be paid out of the sewer capital fund.
City officials said the increases are expected to be the last for the next couple of years, as capital projects are addressed and rates stabilize for the next three to five years.