Lincoln Twp. ponders larger wastewater rate increase

STEVENSVILLE — With an aging infrastructure and rising interest costs, the Lincoln Township Board of Trustees is considering a wastewater rate increase for residents.

At Tuesday’s board meeting, trustees listened to a presentation from Dawn Lund, a consultant from Utility Financial Services, regarding how much funding a 7.9 percent rate increase would produce.

Despite a lengthy discussion on the rate increase, trustees did not vote in the agenda item and tabled the decision for next month’s board meeting.

The rate increase would focus on covering the $1.8 million expense the township will pay as part of a Southwest Michigan Regional Sanitary Sewer and Water Authority project.

The township is among a handful of other municipalities paying for a share of the project.

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

The lift station on Jericho Road and Defay Road is among the most pressing problems the township has come across when it comes to its wastewater system. Stauffer said some parts of the township’s wastewater system are more than 50 years old.

“There are a lot more lift stations that need to be looked at and maintained,” Stauffer said. “It’s going to be a very expensive project. We can’t accomplish that with mild rate increases. We’ve done that in the past.”

According to Herald-Palladium archives, the township’s last two rate increases were 4 percent.

Lund, who gave a presentation breaking down all the factors that contribute to the needed projects that a recent SAW grant identified, told trustees her company’s recommendation was for the township to increase the current rate by 7.9 percent over a five-year period.

The proposed rate increase would begin Jan. 1, 2020.

However, some trustees thought it might be worthwhile to increase the rate even more.

“Even at a 7.9 percent increase, you don’t grow your reserves quick enough to cover emergencies or large projects like this,” Stauffer said. “There was discussion about a 9 percent increase, but we need to talk with Dawn to see where that would take us.”

Lund said the average township homeowner pays $53.50 on a quarterly basis. The recommended rate increase would see the average bill rise to $59.25 per quarter. This would cost the average residential customer about $23 a year, or just under $2 a month.

“I know 7.9 percent sounds big, but the dollar amounts are maybe $25 a year,” Stauffer said. “We need our residents to step up and help the township out.”

With no vote taken on the rate increase, Lund was asked to crunch the numbers on what a higher increase would mean for residents.

Lund and trustees will address the rate increase at the next board meeting, at 7 p.m. on Oct. 8 at Lincoln Township Hall.

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