Water rates rising?

City commission set to consider increase

Mike Angeli, city manager, city of Marquette

MARQUETTE — If approved by the Marquette City Commission, residents of Marquette could face water rate increases of about $16.78 on their monthly bills next year.

Curt Goodman, director of municipal utilities, said the average household uses around 4,000 gallons of water per month. If approved by the commission, stormwater rates could increase by 15.25 percent, water would increase by 12.25 percent and sewer would jump to 25 percent higher for fiscal year 2019.

According to the city’s website, average water rates for one adult is currently $66 to $99.94; two adults is $99.94 to $167.82; three adults is $133.88 to $235; and four adults is $167.82 to $303.58.

During a special budget meeting Thursday, City Manager Mike Angeli said an outside consultant firm was hired to review the city’s stormwater, water and sewer rates about a year ago.

“The study we asked to have done and the numbers we’re going to give you today, which you’ve seen previously, are based on what we believe, or what our consultants believe, are in some respects, the minimal option,” Angeli said. “From my perspective, I think these were difficult decisions that should have been made in the past (and) should have been made on a regular basis to help things be a little bit smoother today.”

When the rate study was discussed during a July meeting, Collin Drat, of nationwide consultant firm Raftelis, said the primary objective of the rate study was to determine the level of revenues needed to ensure the city has “financially sustainable water and wastewater and stormwater utilities.” Drat also noted that “it’s prudent to have a certain level of reserves in the bank” to address any emergency issues that could occur.

Two Marquette residents voiced concerns Thursday over the rates, specifically stating the negative affects people living on fixed-incomes could face paying around $204 more on water services annually.

Angeli said the city is aware they’ll be asking for a lot.

“I know one of the questions will be: ‘Why aren’t we spreading this out over many years?’ We are. That’s the scary part. The numbers that we’re giving you today are meant to be … spread out over five years,” Angeli said, adding that the rates would increase by similar percentages for five fiscal years.

If rates increase for the next fiscal year, townships who use the utilities would not be affected right away because they’re wholesale customers, Goodman said in an August Journal article.

Thursday’s meeting was the third of four scheduled budget meetings.

Budget discussion meetings are open to the public and give people a chance to address any concerns or questions during public comment. Meetings are held at Marquette City Hall commission chambers, located at 300 W. Baraga Ave.

The next budget discussion will be held on at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday. The commission and various department heads will discuss budgets for the Peter White Public Library, Marquette Downtown Development Authority, Marquette Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and Local Development Finance Authority.

The commission is expected to review the entire budget and schedule a public hearing for Sept. 24.