Increases in water, sewer rates proposed
By Dana Casadei
Increases in both water and sewer rates for the 2023-2024 fiscal year were introduced by Noah Mehalski, township director of public works, at the Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, April 10, along with recommendations to use cash surpluses for emergency repairs.
Mehalski presented three key recommendations for the board to consider: a 2.5 percent increase to water rates; a 3.5 percent increase to sewer rates, and the implementation of no fixed fee for secondary meter program participants, both those with existing secondary water meters, and those who plan to participate in the future.
He also recommended the utilization of the township’s $7 million in surplus cash reserves in the water and sewer fund to fund $4.4 million in emergency sewer projects, such as the Forest Lake sewer repair and Club Drive sewer repair, among others.
Mehalski discussed using an additional $3 million from the cash reserves to fund year-one of the meter replacement program as well, which is a three-year program based on the ability of the contractor to do the work.
This program would help replace the 52 percent of meters in the township that are over 15 years old, and would take advantage of the technological updates to meters, giving the township the data to better accurately reflect the amount of water passing through the pipes. This new data will be used to improve customer service and drive future rate considerations.
“I believe we have a very strong proposal,” he said. “It’s not perfect, by any means, but it’s our first step towards fairness and there’s more to come.”
Residents currently pay a fixed quarterly charge based on meter equivalent units (MEUs) and a volumetric charge based on the amount of water used, and Bloomfield Township has historically experienced a decline in water usage per customer account. Billing would be changed to a monthly charge.
The clock is ticking for this to be approved, as new water and sewer rates became effective April 1, and will be first applied to billing by the end of April.
Mehalski will be back at the next board of trustees meeting on Monday, April 24, for the approval of the recommendations of water and sewer rate approval, as well as public comment.