Detroit suburbs' water rates to jump 9% DARREN A. NICHOLS AND STEVE PARDO The Detroit News Detroit Water for suburban customers will increase an average of 9 percent and sewer increases will be even higher under proposed rates released today by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Among the communities with the biggest water rate increases: Plymouth Township, 40 percent; Macomb Township, 31.3 percent; Auburn Hills, 18.7 percent ; Grosse Pointe Woods, 18.2 percent; and Keego Harbor, 16.3 percent. Rates for Detroit residents would jump 9.3 percent. But some communities would catch a break. Rates in Rochester Hills would fall 9 percent, while they would decline 27 percent in Van Buren Township. Darryl Latimer, deputy director of the water department, said the rate increase is attributed to a decrease in water sales. Many communities operate under water contracts with the city. This is also the second year water rates reflect a phasing in of fix costs for customers, Latimer said. But massive population losses have caused a decrease in water sales, Latimer said. "Our budget is predicated on a projection on what we plan to sell," Latimer said. "Our operating costs have not increased, but we have to make up that loss from water sales. The less water folks are buying, the more expensive it is. (Population and industry losses) affected the decrease in sales much more than we could have anticipated." Sewer rates are to increase about 11.5 percent for suburban and Detroit customers in the system that serves 4 million people in 125 communities. Suburban officials have groused for years every year when the water rate hikes are announced. But suburban leaders have a strong rallying point this year following a federal indictment declaring unchecked corruption, pollution woes and instability in the department's leadership. Former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and others face federal charges of rigging bids or pressuring contractors for water contracts. Last week Oakland County officials asked a federal judge to create a five-member interim committee to run the department. That move, coupled with the recent legislation introduced by state Rep. Kurt Heise, R-Canton, calling for a regional authority to control the Detroit Water and Sewer Department, set off a firestorm from Detroit officials and residents. Detroit politicians from the state and city level said they'd fight any and all efforts that would reduce their control of the department. But double-digit increases tend to further rile the suburban customers increases many communities will experience if these latest numbers are passed, said John McCulloch, Oakland County water resources commissioner. "The department has been sensitive in recent years to keeping it under the double-digit increases," he said. "Once you surpass that threshold, that really gets the attention of communities." And the rate increases are only part of the story when it comes to costs, McCulloch warned. The department has deferred maintenance projects in recent years deferrals now coming back to haunt the system as evidenced by recent major pollution violations, he said. Plus the department sets rates based on predictors of future use. "In the past three years the system has lost money and when they lose money they need to be made whole," McCulloch said. The shortfall needs to be made up by the customers but there hasn't been an adjustment since 2008, he said. "You're talking millions of dollars that are going to be charged back to the region on top of the rate increases," McCulloch said. The Board of Water Commissioners is expected to sign off on the proposed water rates at a hearing Feb. 23. The Detroit City Council will hold its annual hearing March 10, officials said. The increases also reflect wholesale rates, and many communities absorb or adjust them for residents. The price rollout comes amid fierce debate about the future of the system. Rep. Heise, an attorney who worked as a Wayne County environmental director, introduced legislation two weeks ago which would create a regional authority to control the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. The goal would be to eventually put the department into in the hands of a private operator, Heise said. "Water is one of those unusual commodities that the less you use the more the price goes up," Heise said. "This is where, frankly, my bill would come in handy." The bill, he said, would also allow the department to refinance water and sewer bonds, saving money for all the customers of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Water rate increases Here are the proposed water rate increases or decreases for wholesale customers served by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Allen Park 9.7% Ash Twp. 11.6% Auburn Hills 18.7% Belleville 10.9% Berlin Twp. 8.3% Brownstown Twp. 8.8% Canton Township 10.3% Center Line 8.9% Chesterfield Twp. 10.3% Clinton Twp. 2.1% Commerce Twp. 10.7% Dearborn 9.9% Dearborn Heights 9.5% Detroit 9.3% Eastpointe 9.8% Ecorse 8.7% Farmington 9.2% Farmington Hills 8.6% Ferndale 5.3% Flat Rock 9.3% Flint 9.5% Fraser 9.9% Garden City 1.8% Gibralter 11.2% Greater Lapeer C.U.A 9.8% Grosse Ile Twp. 11.2% Grosse Pte. Park 10.4% Grosse Pte. Shores 9.4% Grosse Pte. Woods 18.2% Hamtramck 9.7% Harper Woods 9.9% Harrison Twp. 9% Hazel Park 9.6% Huron Twp. 10.7% Inkster 8.9% Keego Harbor 16.3% Lenox Twp. -30.5% Lincoln Park 10.2% Livonia 6.8% Macomb Twp. 31.3% Madison Heights 6% Melvindale 2.9% New Haven 9.8% Northville 9.6% Northville Twp. 11% Novi -3.1% Oak Park 6.2% Oakland Co. Drain Commission -19.7% Orion Twp. 3% Plymouth 10.1% Plymouth Twp. 40.1% Pontiac 9% Redford Twp. 9.9% River Rouge 9.4% Riverview 10.6% Rochester Hills -9% Rockwood 0.9% Romeo 12% Romulus 12.1% Roseville 9.6%% Royal Oak Twp. 9.9% SOCWA 17.9% Shelby Twp. 11.1% South Rockwood -13.1% Southgate -6.2% Sterling Heights 8.4% St. Clair Co.- Greenwood 8.6% St. Clair Co.- Burtchville Twp. 9.1% St. Clair Shores 9.8% Sumpter Twp. 8.9% Sylvan Lake 9.9% Taylor 9.1% Trenton 9.3% Troy 10.2% Utica 10.2% Van Buren Twp. -27.3% Walled Lake -3.7% Warren 6.1% Washington Twp. 10.5% Wayne 8.9% West Bloomfield Twp. 11.4% Westland 5.6% Woodhaven 9.8% Ypsilanti Community Utility Authority 9.2% Wixom 8.3% From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110201...suburbs--water-rates-to-jump-9-#ixzz1ClVHk1zo Wanna kill these ads? We can help!