Shelby Township water rates decrease, sewer rates increase

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published December 30, 2013

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — The Shelby Township Board of Trustees voted 6-1 Dec. 17 to lower the water rates 0.29 percent to $3.477 per hundred cubic feet and increase sewer rates 9.14 percent to $4.302, effective Jan. 1.

The township has a 30-year contract with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD), approved by the previous Township Board in 2011, that is due to expire in 2041 and can be opened for renegotiation every five years. The next renegotiation year is 2016.

In order to reduce water rates, the previous board passed a true cost of service initiative in 2009 to charge residents the price the township pays for water, instead of rounding up, Department of Public Works (DPW) Director David Miller said.

Miller said without the true cost of service initiative, the 2014 water rate would be $5.216 per unit — a $1.80 per-unit savings.

He said the DPW also reduced labor costs by a quarter of a million dollars and saved taxpayers $3 million dollars in insurance by paying off $14 million of long-term debt in 2012.

“Basically, we’ve taken the true revenue requirements in keeping with the commitment the (DPW) made to the Township Board not to raise rates by more than 10 percent,” Miller said.

Supervisor Rick Stathakis thanked the DPW.

“While we were not and still are not happy with our contract with the DWSD, entering into it was literally the only possible move for us to make,” Stathakis said. “Detroit operates the only viable option for water and sewer service for Shelby Township, and they took full advantage of that position in those negotiations.”

Clerk Stanley Grot said he supported everything in the motion and that he believes the DPW is doing everything it can to save money on the water and sewer rates, but he said he would cast a nay vote as a matter of protest.

“Eighty percent of revenue (for the DSWD) comes from the suburbs,” Grot said. “The suburbs should not be an ATM ... for the city of Detroit.”

Mary Alfonso, the DWSD public affairs manager, said that the suburbs pay for their water wholesale to cover only the water provided to them based on a formula, and then the suburbs may charge residents what they wish.

She said residents of Detroit pay for the cost of water plus residential fees, so the suburbs are not subsidizing the DWSD.

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