Nov 26, 2007

Suttons Bay Residents to Experience Fee Increase

Poor planning will cause Suttons Bay residents to see extreme increases in water and sewer bills.

Residents of Suttons Bay, Mich., will be seeing more than a $500 increase per year in water and sewer bills because of poor calculations about the village’s wastewater system.

The village’s new wastewater treatment plant, completed last year, severely overestimated the quantity of wastewater treatment the new home and condominium development would need; it supports more than double the amount neccessary.
This means major costs for residents, who now have to pay off the plant’s building costs.

Village council President Larry Mawby feels that the poor real-estate market was the reason for inflated estimates. Made two years ago, the estimates relating to the BayView development assumed that 550 units would be built, but currently that number rests at only 30.

“This projection for over 500 users from BayView, that was out for over 15 years,” Mawby told the Record-Eagle. “There was no expectation all 500 of those were going to show up by now. We did expect more than we have, though.”

Michigan state law requires that cities put away money each year for infrastructure work. This will also be affecting citizens, as a “sewer ready-to-serve” charge will be implemented in 2008. Throughout the year, the city hopes to put away $57,000.

The system also needs approximately $1.3 million in improvements and replacements, which the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) could demand compliance for any day. This would mean even greater increases to water users.

Mawby is hoping to put off these improvements until at least 2010.

“[DEQ compliance workers] understand the financial problems with the water system. I believe technically they could force us to do it tomorrow, but they're working with us," he said. "As long as we're making some progress, I think we're OK, but I don't know at what point we're going to have to finish that whole big project."

Residents have the opportunity to meet with village officials and make amendments to the already-passed budget during a Dec. 4th meeting in the Suttons Bay-Bingham Fire and Rescue meeting room.