Royalton Township considering sewer rate increase

ST. JOSEPH — With previous water line projects making a dent in Royalton Township’s sewer fund, trustees have agreed to look into raising wastewater rates.

The decision was also determined after Manager Steve Tilly briefed the board Monday about a future project that the township would have to help pay for.

St. Joseph Township officials reached out to Royalton Township with plans of replacing a water line in the next few years after three water main breaks in the past 18 months.

“I informed the board we will be required to pay for half of the project,” Tilly said Tuesday. “We might not have enough money available though. We might have to start thinking about raising some rates, similar to what Lincoln Township did recently.”

The water line that is at the center of attention runs along Hollywood Road from Niles Avenue to Maiden Lane, which operates as a border between the two townships.

While the water line belongs to St. Joseph Township, Royalton agreed to buy half of the line in 1986 so residents could connect to it.

The news of this project comes with bad timing, as Royalton Township helped replace another water main in a joint effort with Lincoln and St. Joseph Townships.

The cost was split among the three municipalities based on population. While Royalton Township paid the least among the three, the project still cost Royalton more than $700,000.

Tilly said the township had about $1.5 million in its wastewater fund prior to the project.

“We took a big hit to replace that,” Tilly said. “It’s taken half our money. We’re going to be in the $700,000 to $750,000 range when it’s all done.”

What’s frightening for Tilly and trustees is there might be more water and sewer line projects in the next few years – outside of the one on Hollywood Road.

Supervisor Robert Basselman said the same problem can be found in nearly every community in the country.

“We’re all in the same boat where our infrastructure needs to be replaced,” Basselman said. “A large portion of our infrastructure has run its life cycle and needs to be replaced. We need to prepare for that. Things are not going to get cheaper. If that means pushing for a rate increase, it’s the cost of doing business.”

At Monday’s board meeting, no rate increase was chosen.

However, trustees instructed Tilly to budget for what future projects might cost and what it would take to get the township’s sewer fund back to where it was.

“We’re going to look at what kind of rate increase we might need over the next three to five years to start putting money away,” Tilly said.

The next board meeting is at 7 p.m. on Nov. 11 at Royalton Township Hall.

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