Detroit Must Share Water Formula

Oct. 23, 2002
The Michigan Appeals Court has ruled the city of Detroit must explain to Warren officials how it calculates the rates it charges suburban water customers.

In a three-sentence order received by Detroit and Warren officials this week, the Michigan Court of Appeals agreed to take Detroit's immediate appeal on the water billing lawsuit in Macomb County, but refused to order a stay on the case.

"We say the formula is public information," Warren City Attorney George Constance told The Detroit News for a Wednesday story. "We say 'Give me the paper, give me the disks, give me something tangible I can touch."'

Constance said he was demanding that Detroit immediately turn over the records, so that the formula was available by the time Detroit holds a regional hearing about its water department Thursday evening.

George Ellenwood, a spokesman for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, said the city would discontinue any further appeals after the latest ruling, and give full disclosure.

"In terms of where and when, though, that is being handled by the (Detroit) Law Department, and I don't know their schedule on it," Ellenwood told The Macomb Daily.

However, Jamaine Dickens, spokesman for Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, told The Detroit News the city would explore its options to appeal.

"To turn that over sets a dangerous precedent," he said. "It's the city's intellectual property."

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department supplies drinking water to 4 million customers in 126 Michigan communities.

Warren filed the lawsuit in Macomb Circuit Court four months ago following the latest round of double-digit water rate hikes for Macomb County's largest city. Water rates have climbed 50 percent over the past four years.

The state House of Representatives has formed a subcommittee to study a bill that would reorganize the board into a 10-member panel that would include the suburbs.

Source: AP

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