Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Great Lakes Water Authority approves a 4.3 percent water bill hike for the suburbs

Posted By on Wed, Jun 1, 2016 at 12:33 PM

click to enlarge BARTA IV/FLICKR
  • Barta IV/Flickr
The Great Lakes Water Authority approved a 4.3 percent hike in service charges that begins July 1, according to the Detroit News. 

The price jump, which is 50 percent lower than last year's increase, is higher, still, than predicted. The Detroit Free Press reported in May that the increase in water and sewer bills would amount to 3.2 percent. 

The spike, which will affect suburban bills, was previously attributed to unpaid bills from the city of Highland Park. 

"If they’d been paying their sewer bills on a regular basis, the average increases would be 1.7 percent," Great Lakes Water Authority Chairman Robert Daddow told Freep last month.

The city of Highland Park owes nearly $30 million in unpaid bills, according to the GLWA, which took over for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department in January.

That said, since the spike passed Wednesday (5-1), the reasons for the increase have expanded.

As Daddow told the Detroit News Tuesday, other causes for the upswing in price, include the imminent departure of Genesee County — one of the department's largest customers — as it readies itself for the completion of the Karegnondi Water Authority. (In 2014, Genesee County and Flint signed onto the KWA, which is expected to be finished in 2017 — the county stuck with DWSD until completion, while Flint switched to the Flint River.) The loss is expected to take away about $18 million in revenues from the GLWA, according to the News.

Daddow also attributed to the spike in prices to the costs of repairing the Detroit wastewater treatment plant, which was devastated in a fire this past spring.

"We have a whole series of issues," Daddow told the News after the vote. "If we lower the rate this year, it just makes it harder to keep increases down next year."

This is the first time the GLWA has set rates since DWSD was running the show. 

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