By Rosemary K. Otzman
As of Oct. 1, Belleville City water and sewer users will have a hike in rates.
In a memo from Kelly Howey of Plante Moran in the city’s finance office, it was pointed out in previous years the city has passed the increases in costs from Detroit and Wayne County on to its consumers.
Water costs have increased 7% from last year and if the city passes that on to its consumers, costs would increase from $6.74 to $7.21 per 1,000 gallons.
Sewer costs have increased about 3.5% from the prior year, so sewer rates would increase from $6.38 to $6.60 per 1,000 gallons.
The city council voted unanimously to increase the rates by those figures.
City Manager Diana Kollmeyer said for the next billing cycle in October she expects the computerized billing will be able to bill to the nearest gallon, rather than by 1,000 gallons as currently done.
Mayor Kerreen Conley said the city got into trouble a few years ago when it didn’t increase rates as Detroit did. Now the city has to raise rates in increments, but it won’t be by 50% as it was needed to catch up before.
Mayor Conley said she went to a Council of Western Wayne meeting where the new water authority was outlined. It is expected to be operating by July of 2015.
In other business at Monday’s meeting, the council:
• Set two public hearings for Oct. 6 to amend the ordinances on penalties and sanctions and to amend the snow and ice removal ordinance, requiring snow removal after 24 hours of falling and the permitted use of a “commercial ice melting product” to be spread upon the ice (replacing “coal dust”);
• Approved Winter Fest street closings, as requested by the Randy Brown of the Belleville Area Chamber of Commerce. Winter Fest is Dec. 5 and 6. The lighted parade starts earlier, at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, so as not to interfere with the Dec. 6 nationwide Angel of Hope event at 7 p.m. at Hillside Cemetery. The fireworks have been moved to Friday night for the same reason, but there may be a problem in getting fire fighters from Belleville and Van Buren Township to be around to help with the fireworks because a VBT fire fighter and a Belleville fire fighter are getting married that night and most of the fire fighters want to go to the wedding. It was suggested they ask Sumpter to help;
• Approved Main Street closing for the Belleville Area Council for the Arts’ 2015 Artaffair on Main, July 25-26. BACA President Doug Dalton said they are planning to get cash awards to help bring more artists to the event;
• Passed a proclamation that Belleville will become “Booville” during the month of October. About 20 events are being planned throughout the month, including the annual Harvest Fest;
• Approved closing High Street and the parking lane on Main Street between High and Denton Road for the Belleville Zombie 5K race on Oct. 18. Belleville High School New Tech students Marissa Higgins and Brittany Jones were present to explain the project. This event started with the Soup contest, where the Zombie Race won the prize, so they had money to make the race a reality;
• Opened three sealed bids for refuse and recycling services and referred them to the administration and engineer for a recommendation. Bids came from Waste Management, Republic Waste, and Rizzo Environmental;
• Opened the lone bid for installation of equipment for the police department’s new 2015 Ford Interceptor. Priority One Emergency bid $9,141 and was approved, contingent on Chief Berriman’s review of the bid. Berriman had solicited bids from four companies. He said there will be a two-week turnaround and he is anxious to have their new car on the road;
• Approved Hennessey Engineers moving forward to prepare engineering plans and specifications at a cost not to exceed $22,000 for the Sewer Rehab Proposal under the State Revolving Fund. The city’s SRF loan has been approved. The project would be bid out in January for final loan approval and start construction in April. Estimated construction cost is $432,300;
• Reluctantly approved the intergovernmental agreement with Wayne County and paying $22,525 as the first payment to the county for 50% of the local share of resurfacing of East Huron River Drive from Sumpter to Martinsville. After bids are taken, if the total cost is more than the $934,950 estimated, with the city’s share $45,050, Belleville could opt out of the project. The project is partially funded with federal money. The funds Belleville will use are Act 51 road funds. The city doesn’t get Act 51 funds for East Huron River Drive, so it will seek information on whether it’s legal to use that money for that road. The project will mill off the surface and resurface and restore the shoulder with grass. It will take 65 days and would start after the 2015 Strawberry Fest, so it will be done by a year from now;
• Approved paying $5,000 to help pay for legal counsel (Erman, Teicher, Zucker & Freedman of Southfield) for proposed legal action against Wayne County over the Downriver Utility Wastewater system, which the county has indicated it will sell. Thirteen communities have paid for the system, so they oppose this action;
• Approved a traffic order for Harbour Pointe subdivision that allows parking on just one side of the streets, to provide space for emergency vehicles. Signs will be erected and public education and warnings will come before anyone is ticketed;
• Approved accounts payable of $61,637.31, with the removal of $120 to Johnston Lithograph for hole signs for the recent fire auxiliary’s golf fund raiser. Also approved were the following departmental purchases in excess of $500: to Council of Western Wayne, $3,406 for annual dues; to Downriver Utility Wastewater Authority, $5,000 for community assessment; to JLB Overhead Door, $555.57 for door repair; to UMS, $4,500 for sewer line repair; and to Wayne County Accounts Receivable, $945 for prisoner lodging; and
• Was informed DPW Director Rick Rutherford’s father died and his service was to be Sept. 16 at Crane’s in Romulus.
By Rosemary K. Otzman