2007-02-01 / Front Page

Clark Twp. Raises Sewer Rates to $46

By Amy Polk

Clark Township residents will see higher sewer bills in March, when quarterly rates are increased from $40 to $46. The increase was adopted, 3-2, at a special board meeting in December, and trustees decided January 18 to notify customers via letter.

Trustees have been saying for at least a year that the quarterly rates are not keeping up with the cost to run the system. The fee was originally $21 in 1972. Clark Township's Sewer Advisory Board, in its recommendation for the increase, said the rates have not kept up with inflation and was even lowered from $42 to $40 four years ago. While the number of users has grown over the 35 years, repressed rates, coupled with increased labor, supply, and equipment costs have hurt the budget, they say.

Tying rate increases to inflation, the township board contends, would have driven the quarterly rate to as much as $84.

Quarterly fees are based on the number of residential equivalent units (REUs) assigned to a property. A single family home in Clark Township is charged one REU ($46) per quarter, or $184 a year. A motel will pay 0.5 REU or $23 per unit, so a 12-unit motel will now pay $276 a quarter, $1,104 a year.

The rate increase will bring in an estimated $27,168 a year.

Under the new rate plan, grinder pump installation will cost $4,000 up to 200 feet from the sewer main and an extra $1 per foot beyond that.

State law requires all developed properties within 200 feet from a sewer system to hook up to the system. The property owner pays all costs of hooking up to the line, including excavation, drilling, and road repair.

The township currently charges customers $3,800 to install a grinder pump, even though it costs the township $3,903, according to the advisory board.

In gravity feed areas where grinder pumps are not required, the $500 hook-up feet will not be increased.

As in several other Mackinac County communities, the Clark Township system is using stockpiled sewer expansion funds to subsidize current operations, which could lead to cash shortages in the future, so the Sewer Advisory Board is reviewing current charges and the tax millage with an eye toward making the sewer pay for itself. Late fees and other penalties for nonpayment are also being studied, and so is the sewer expansion plan.

Les Cheneaux Club

An ongoing struggle by the Les Cheneaux Club of Marquette Island to satisfy a Department of Environmental Quality order to update its sewage treatment will end with the club hooking into Clark Township's sewer system.

Trustees were updated in December and January on the club's plan to drill a four-inch pipeline from Marquette Island beneath Les Cheneaux Channel to the Cedarville mainland, to tie into the sewer main somewhere near the club's golf course. The arrangement will affect the club's 25 or so seasonal cottages and the clubhouse and replace the club's decades old system. The Department of Environmental Quality told the club two years ago to remedy or replace its aging sewer system.

In response to a Les Cheneaux Club Proposal to build an alternative system and turn it over to Clark Township for ownership and maintenance, trustees instead offered the club the option for its members to become regular users of the municipal system. Members would pay the quarterly fee, and possibly a gravity hook-up charge. A hook up charge still needs to be negotiated.

Sewer Advisory Board Per Diems

Township trustees adopted a $25-per-meeting stipend for members of the Sewer Advisory Board at the January meeting. There are five members of the board, and Supervisor Linda Hudson said it plans to meet at least six times this year, as required by the Clark Township Sewer Ordinance. Meetings are the fourth Thursday of each month, and future meetings will be February 22, April 26, June 28, August 30, October 25, and December 27. Meetings are at 7 p.m., at Clark Township Hall.

The Sewer Advisory Board includes Steve Autore, Linda Hudson, Keith Kester, Norm Perkins, and Sandy Sherlund.

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