Upcoming sewer project to affect bills in Negaunee

Ann Ducoli, secretary to the Negaunee City Manager, right, clarifies information on the fee schedule for the council during a special meeting on Thursday, as City Manager Nate Heffron, left, and Mayor Don Gladwell look on. (Journal photo by Lisa Bowers)

NEGAUNEE — Much needed upgrades to one area of the city of Negaunee’s sewer infrastructure will contribute to an increase in resident’s wastewater rates in 2019.

At a special meeting on Thursday, the Negaunee City Council approved the city’s 2019 fee schedule including a $3 per month capital/system improvement, or CIP, charge for wastewater from the current rate of $2.80 per household.

City Manager Nate Heffron said an inspection of a portion of the sanitary sewer on Brown Avenue in August revealed the pipe had been compromised.

“The camera couldn’t go very far and we found out that we had a collapse,” Heffron said. “We replaced 80 feet of sewer line during an emergency dig. It is important to note, that this is one of the main lines that collects all the sewage, everything north of (U.S.) 41, that means more than half of the community. We need to do this project no matter what.”

The remaining sewer infrastructure along Brown Avenue is still in need of replacement or repair, Heffron said. The work is expected to cost $500,000, of which he said the city could utilize $100,000 already in the sewer fund. The rest of the expense would be funded by the increase in the monthly wastewater CIP, Heffron said.

With the increase, each household would pay an additional $36 per year for three years, Heffron said, generating an estimated $125,000 each year.

Once the project has been paid for in full, Heffron said the council can vote to rescind the charge.

“Or we can move it somewhere else or however you want to do that,” Heffron said. “I think on small projects like that it might be the most logical way of doing that, but we will have to see in the future if we do several projects that cost millions of dollars, which would make more sense to bond out.”

The adopted fee schedule showed no increase in the ready-to-serve charge for wastewater, which according to the fee schedule is representative of “the fixed costs of maintaining the wastewater system including upgrades to infrastructure.”

The only other increase to city wastewater services consists 16 cents for every 1,000 gallons of water usage after the fixed monthly ready-to-serve charge, which is based on meter size.

City water rates will rise by 76 cents per 1,000 gallons of usage after the fixed charge from $10.17 to $10.93 in 2019.

In addition, the monthly water rate per metered and unmetered services for capital/system improvements will rise from $2.80 to $3.45.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.