2004-12-11 / Top News

Water, Sewer Rates To Double by April 1

By Ryan Schlehuber

Mackinac Island can expect water and sewer rates to double by April 1, 2005, according to the Department of Public Works (DPW). The existing primary rate of $3.50 per 1,000 gallons of water and sewer may be raised to $7 per 1,000 gallons, DPW Director Bruce Zimmerman reported to the Mackinac Island City Council at its regular meeting Wednesday, December 8.

The Board of Public Works has hired Clyde Dugan of Lansing as a rate expert to assist in structuring the rate increase to recover a $1.2 million deficit that has been building over the last two years, draining its cash reserves. Mr. Dugan retired from the Lansing Board of Water and Light this summer. He is now analyzing the rate increase proposal, Mr. Zimmerman said, and will advise the DPW as to whether it will be adequate.

Mr. Zimmerman told the Town Crier he didn’t know how much the increase will bring to the DPW.

In the last 10 years, the Board of Public Works has been reducing user fees and millage rates.

Among expenditures anticipated by the DPW is an upgrade to the 35-year-old wastewater treatment plant and expansion of the treatment systems for both water and sewer. An expansion of the water treatment plant is estimated to cost $365,000, but expanding wastewater treatment could cost from $8.2 million to $12 million.

Last summer, when the DPW realized new construction on the Island would outpace water and sewer capacity, the city issued a building moratorium while it studied options and finally set a new policy allowing only about 15 new homes or business equivalents to be built a year for the next six years. Not affected are some 100 residential building lots already platted, but not yet developed, and public buildings.

In other action at the December 8 meeting, Council approved Edison Sault Electric’s request to upgrade the electrical power transformers behind the Mackinac Island Taxi booth on Main Street. The upgrade will allow more electrical power for Debra and Sandra Orr’s new cafe, which is under renovation in the building that use to house Maeve Croghan’s store and Professor Harry’s Old Time Photos.

Maeve’s Art and Antiques has moved to the Carrousel Shops on Market Street.

City Clerk Karen Lennard told Council she has advised Cynthia and Joshua Ivey Abitz in a letter that their temporary motor vehicle permit for a tractor has expired that the City asks them to remove the vehicle as soon as possible. The couple is building a home in the Forest Brook subdivision but their project was stalled during the building moratorium this summer.

Alderman Jason St. Onge asked that the city limit the number of committee meetings it holds each week. He said two to four committee meetings are held each week, a burden for those with full time jobs.

Mr. St. Onge said committee meetings are posted 18 hours in advance on local cable Channel 3, at the post office, and at First National Bank, in accordance with state law.

Council agreed to install a heated gutter on the west side of the fire hall on Market Street for an estimated cost of $4,000. The gutter will eliminate ice build-up in front of the door on that side. The city will seek bids for the job in the spring.

Council approved two motor vehicle permit requests, one for Bear River Development of Boyne Falls and one for O’Boyle and Company of Marquette. Bear River is using a small front-end loader at Ralph Leino’s new condominium project at the Mission for back-filling foundations and removing concrete.

O’Boyle requested use of a similar vehicle to be used at Lake View Hotel for concrete demolition.

Council also agreed to allow O’Boyle’s vehicle to be escorted by police to the Coal Dock to refuel, so workers don’t have to haul fuel to the site and store excess fuel there.

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