Water, sewer rates rise in Bloomfield Township
By Lisa Brody
In a split 4-3 vote, Bloomfield trustees approved increasing the rates the township charges for water, sewer and ready-to-serve, their operating expense, as of April 1, 2021, at their meeting on Monday, April 12.
Olsztyn-Budry explained “the township owns, operates and maintains the water system that delivers the water to the customers and the sewer system that collects the wastewater from each customer. The water and sewer system consists of over 500 miles of buried pipe throughout the township that is operated and maintained by the township. In order to determine the township’s charges for water and sewer to the customer, the water and sewer systems’ estimated expenses are added to the estimated water and sewer purchases from Southeast Oakland County Water Authority (SOCWA) and the Oakland County Water Resource Commissioner’s Office (WRC). These costs are then divided by the estimated volume of water to be sold to the township’s customers.”
On March 22 the township held a study session to discuss how the water and sewer rates are calculated and to review and gather input from the board on the selections of variables that are included in the final water and sewer rates.
“Ready-to-serve (RTS) costs represent 80 percent of operating expenses for the township to operate its systems,” Olsztyn-Budry said, with a recommended quarterly water rate of $5.92 per 1,000 gallons of water used, up from $5.86 last year, and $10.04 per 1,000 gallons for the sewer variable rate, up from $9.56.
“Water usage is down to the '80's usage, despite additions of residents and commercial growth, so we're not generating enough revenue,” Olsztyn-Budry said.
The proposed flat rate ready-to-serve water rate for fiscal year 2021-2022 is $43.50 per quarter, up from $42.50. The flat rate ready-to-serve sewer rate per is $44.20 per quarter, up from $43.50. Those customers choosing to pay a combined flat rate water and sewer ready-to-sewer charge would pay $87.70 this fiscal year, up from $86 last year.
Supervisor Dani Walsh explained the township is a customer of SOCWA, versus a member, like Birmingham, Royal Oak, and 10 other communities, meaning the community's rates are higher because they are not an owner.
“People in the '50s made a decision to save money, and that's why you aren't in SOCWA, and we're not part of it,” she said. “We're reaching out to SOCWA now and saying you have 12 communities, how about 15? Or 20? It's a long-term plan because they're not writing a contract for at least three years. But that's why people in other communities are paying less. It's a longer term goal. The biggest issue ahead is 70 percent of people use 30 percent ofrless.”
She said she would not support the increase in rates.
Treasurer Brian Kepes pointed out that, “We did make a big change going from Detroit Water and Sewerage (DWDS) to becoming a customer of SOCWA. We have made changes. We get good service and good quality water. We get it as efficiently as possible.”
Kepes, clerk Martin Brook, and trustees Neal Barnett and Val Murray voted to approve the increase in rates, while Walsh and trustees Stephanie Fakih and Michael Schostak voted against.