Lincoln Twp. OKs 9.9% sewer rate hike

Lincoln Charter Township Municipal Building

STEVENSVILLE — Lincoln Township residents will pay more for wastewater services as the municipality plans to address an aging infrastructure and rising interest costs.

At Tuesday’s board meeting, trustees agreed to a 9.9 percent wastewater rate increase over the next five years, which would be used to focus on covering the township’s $1.8 million expense from a Southwest Michigan Regional Sanitary Sewer and Water Authority project.

Supervisor Dick Stauffer said the increase on average would lead to an extra $8.20 per quarter, or about $33 a year.

With the average township homeowner paying $53.50 on a quarterly basis, the rate increase would see the average bill rise to $61.70 per quarter.

“It’s time for us to step up to the line as previous generations did for us,” Stauffer said.

The rate increase will begin Jan. 1.

The unanimous vote came after the topic was first tabled at last month’s meeting, when the board listened to a presentation from a Utility Financial Services consultant.

During the presentation, the board was given a look at how much revenue a 7.9 percent increase would bring to the township. However, some trustees thought it might be worthwhile to increase the rate even more.

“Our consultant had always wanted a 9.9 percent increase. I didn’t know if the board would go along with that or not, so I asked for (the consultant) to crunch the numbers on a 7.9 percent increase,” Stauffer said.

The main problem with the initial rate increase was it would not allow the township to recoup what it had lost in its reserves.

The 9.9 percent rate increase is projected to bring the township wastewater reserve fund back up to the $4 million threshold, Stauffer said.

Clerk Stacy Loar-Porter said the increase is the township’s best option, as it would be less costly than pushing for a new millage.

The township’s reserve fund has slowly dipped over the past couple years, due to a series of projects.

Among the largest of the projects the increase would help with is the $1.8 million expense the township will pay as part of a Southwest Michigan Regional Sanitary Sewer and Water Authority project.

Lincoln Township is paying for a large portion of the $4 million project because it is divided among several municipalities, based on population.

Stauffer said the township plans to also use any additional funds to pay for lift station repairs and replacing sewer lines throughout the township.

For example, the lift station on Jericho Road and Defay Road has required repeated maintenance recently.

Stauffer said some parts of the township’s wastewater system are more than 50 years old.

The next board meeting is at 7 p.m. on Nov. 12 at Lincoln Township Hall.

Contact: twittkowski@TheHP.com, 932-0358, Twitter: @TonyWittkowski