City unveils proposed water/sewer rate increases

It appears another water and sewer rate increase is on the way for City of Alpena residents.

New rates for the 2019-20 fiscal year were unveiled during a municipal council meeting Monday evening.

Under the proposal, water rates would increase 1.82 percent and sewer rates 4.09 percent for a combined increase of 2.96 percent.

In addition, the billing charge would go up 2.25 percent.

City engineer Rich Sullenger told the municipal council the rate increases are needed “…to meet the needs and expenses of the utilities…”

A rate hike of 2.96 percent would be the lowest increase in the past four years. Rates went up 8.29 percent in 2018, 4.47 percent in 2017 and 5.34 percent in 2016. The new rates equate to an increase of approximately 36 cents per 1,000 gallons of water, and another about 10 cent increase for the higher billing charge.

The new rates would raise nearly $3.5 million over the next year for infrastructure maintenance projects if all customers were paying the same rate. However, because the Charter Township of Alpena has not paid any rate increases over the past 8 years, and is still paying a rate from 2011, the new rates would generate only about $2.3 million. A study revealed the city needs more than $8.7 million annually to properly maintain its water and sewer infrastructure.

Council will vote on the new rates in the coming weeks. They would take effect July 1.