At Monday’s regular meeting, the Belleville City Council raised water/sewer rates for residents and approved the Hillside Cemetery Advisory Committee’s recommendation on increased cemetery rates.
The council also agreed to purchase a $343,000 radio-read water meter system to replace the 20-year-old system in place that, officials think, is at the root of loss of some 26% of Detroit water being purchased, but not billed for.
“The water fund is paying more for water than it can bill to customers,” said Molly, the city’s Plante Moran financial consultant, saying some $40,000 to $60,000 in water is lost coming out of the main or not being able to be billed for, for other reasons.
Once this new meter system is installed and running, city residents will be billed monthly for water use instead of quarterly. There is no estimate of when the switchover will take place.
The antenna will be at city hall’s tower and meters will be read from city hall, said DPW Director Keith Boc, who recommended the meter purchase.
The water/sewer rates will go up 8%, a projected total increase of $91.80 per 100,000 gallons. There are about 1,027 city water customers.
The increase will help pay for the new water meters, along with the hoped-for cut in water loss. Also, since the present billing is based on 1,000 gallons, the practice of “rounding down” leaves unbilled gallons that have been used.
The new meters also have ways to note when tampering in taking place.
An increase in revenue of $102,821.08 is expected because of the new meter accuracy.
SLC Meter Service, Inc., is offering 4.5% financing for the project with a 20% down payment of $69,468.76 and the rest payable in monthly installments of $5,179.43 for 60 months.
The council also raised rates for graves, other services in Hillside Cemetery and after-hours/weekend charges, so the city will break even. Currently the city’s general fund subsidizes the cemetery by $38,000 per year.
The council also discussed the issue of columbarium sites for cremated remains and sent the subject back to the Cemetery Advisory Committee for more information, deferring action on the subject to a future meeting.
In other business at Monday’s meeting, the council:
• Approved, 4-1, the final budget amendments for the 2010-11 fiscal year which ends June 30. Councilwoman Kim Tindall voted no after complaining that the city isn’t looking at numbers realistically during the budgeting process. The final budget has $109,719 more revenue than expected, for a total budget of $2,272,564. Expenditures were also up by $18,709. The final figures added $75,453 to the fund balance, which now stands at $216,917;
• Approved the Lakeview Tavern Liquor License transfer of trustee from the late Don Helgeson to Mary Ann Helgeson’s son, Alan Cole of Deerfield, as requested by Michigan Liquor License Control paperwork. The approval recognizes Cole as the successor trustee, which should have been done 10 years ago, but an attorney died and the paperwork was set aside. Mary Ann said she didn’t know the city was involved until she read it in the Independent. The LCC request was tabled at a previous meeting for more information;
• Heard Mayor Richard Smith announce that the city’s ISO fire class rating has gone from 7 to 6, which should result in lower rates for some homeowners. He urged residents to ask their insurance agents about it;
• Heard City Manager Diane Kollmeyer announce that Standard & Poors has reviewed the city’s finances and has announced Belleville’s credit rating remains as “A, Stable Outlook”;
• Heard Jennifer Delano announce that the senior transportation bus will no longer appear in parades because of current circumstances. She said on July 11 at 5:30 p.m. she will be meeting with seniors at Columbia Court to explain that, although there are cutbacks, their senior transportation is still in business;
• Learned LaMuriel Lyman has compiled three histories of the parks, which the Parks and Recreation Commission hopes to be published in local papers. Also, the commission now has a Twitter account set up by Jim Powers.
• Heard Tom Fielder announce that the Strawberry Festival Committee will meet at 5:30 p.m., July 12, at Victory Station for a debriefing on the festival. He said there was somewhat less of a crowd this year, but the vendors seemed to make out well;
•Approved accounts payable of $202,979.40 and the following departmental expenditures over $500: to Wayne County $805 for prisoner lodging (Kenneth Bowman, Michael Harris, Justin Hixson, Terrance Mark, Jr. – a total of 23 days at $35 per day); to Blue Ribbon, $3,200 for leaf disposal; to SLC Meter for a meter for the high school, $1,302.50 (reimbursed by school); to Western Wayne County Fire, for mutual aid association membership, $2,319.77; to the Fire Store, $575 for gloves, $1,100 for nozzles, and $910 for helmets; and to Time Emergency Equipment $765.58 paid for fire gear for a 2009 order by former Fire Chief Darwin Loyer, who disputed the billing. After review, the city found the billing to be correct and paid it; and
• Went into executive session to discuss pending union negotiations.
The next regular city council meeting will be on a Tuesday – at 7:30 p.m., July 5.