Pleasant Ridge setting up citizens advisory committee for water infrastructure

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published December 25, 2021

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PLEASANT RIDGE — The city of Pleasant Ridge is forming a citizens advisory committee for water infrastructure funding.

In November, residents voted to approve a water infrastructure millage that would levy up to 3.5 mills per year for 30 years to pay for lead service line and water main replacements. The millage would take effect at the beginning of the fiscal year in 2022.

The millage issue has been much talked about over the past couple of months since its passage, which was by a thin margin of 668 “yes” votes to 610 “no” votes.

The citizens advisory committee will include an undecided number of residents to make a recommendation to the City Commission for the best way to fund its water infrastructure improvements. As this process goes on, the current water rates for this fiscal year will remain in effect, City Manager James Breuckman told the Woodward Talk.

“They’ll be looking at all of the funding options and presenting the City Commission with their recommendation for what is the best way to go,” Breuckman said.

Residents can apply to be on the committee at www.cityofpleas antridge.org. The applications will be due by Dec. 31.

In addition to the member selection process for the committee, the City Commission also needed to select a neutral third-party facilitator to help. The commission ended up choosing Jaymes Vettraino as the facilitator during its Dec. 14 meeting.

According to a city document, the expected cost of the citizens advisory committee facilitation is $5,000 to $8,000. The final cost is dependent upon the number of committee meetings that are held.

The hope is, Breuckman said, that the committee can start meeting at the earliest in January to begin studying the funding options in depth and provide a recommendation by the spring.

“Ideally, we’d have it by the beginning of April, because that’s when we’re really working on preparing the budget for next year,” he said. “It’d be good to have it by then. We could work with it if it comes later than that, but that would be the goal.”

The lead service line replacements date back to a statewide mandate in Michigan’s Lead and Copper Rule. Pleasant Ridge estimates those replacements will cost $8.4 million. The water main replacements, which are not mandated, are estimated to cost $16.5 million, for a total project cost of nearly $25 million.

The commission and residents spoke more about the citizens advisory committee and the next steps in the water infrastructure process during a special Nov. 30 meeting. Many residents came to voice their thoughts, including Jeff Hand, who previously served on a citizens advisory committee for Pleasant Ridge in 2014.

Hand stated that the most frustrating thing from his time on the committee was to go through the process and then have the recommendations ignored.

“I’m in 100% support of doing a CAC, but you need to be committed to hearing the recommendations of the CAC,” he said.

The full meeting can be viewed on the city of Pleasant Ridge’s YouTube page.

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