Home Supporting structure Study on water, sewer and stormwater rates presented to the Commission municipale de Marquette | News, Sports, Jobs

Study on water, sewer and stormwater rates presented to the Commission municipale de Marquette | News, Sports, Jobs


MARQUETTE — The Marquette municipal commission was busy Monday evening, since it held a working session and then a regular meeting.

The working session focused on the city’s water, sewer and stormwater rates. Collin Drat, director of Raftelis, presented a tariff study at the meeting as the commission considers future planning for the 2023 financial year. Raftelis is a company that provides consultancy expertise to local authorities.

Drat focused on assessing affordability and options for bill affordability.

“(There are) two pieces of information you need to think about affordability; one is, what is the impact? Basically the cost. And then, what are the means of assessing the ability to pay? Drat said.

Drat mentioned the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy’s drinking water revolving fund. This program is designed to help water suppliers meet the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act by providing low-interest loans to qualifying water suppliers. The city should qualify for this program, but Drat said it would be a good option.

Drat then discussed the pricing structure. There are two pricing structure options that are commonly talked about.

“The most common consideration is a lower fixed load, and another that comes up is the skew in block rates,” he said. “When it comes to lower fixed costs, the real rationale is that if we lower the fixed costs, we will reduce the part of the bill that you cannot control. By definition, this reduces the burden on smaller customers. The presumption is that our low-volume customers are also our low-income customers.

Tilting the tariffs per block would amount to charging a higher unit cost beyond a certain threshold. There are two ways to implement tilt lock rates, Drat said.

“The first is to fix certain volumes, fix blocks basically so that everyone basically has the same structure,” he said. “There’s another one called an individualized block which would basically define these blocks based on an individual’s usage characteristics.”

He went on to say that these escalating block rates might be appropriate for the city because they would recognize the higher level of service received by users who enter the higher usage blocks.

Next, Drat talked about the potential use of fire protection fillers.

“The reason for this is that our water systems, especially the smaller distribution lines, are oversized, a lot of that extra capacity is related to sufficient fire flow to our hydrants and fire connections. private fires”, he said. “So the idea is that we would have a charge that recognizes the fixed cost of having that capacity available. Fire protection charges recover the cost from the users who get that service,” he said.

Drat also talked about looking at customer assistance programs, such as the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program, to help low-income households struggling to pay their bills.

“We have been working diligently on this financial planning and have been a bit more strategic about our future and these rates,” said City Manager Karen Kovacs.

No motions were presented as this meeting was a working session.

After the working session, the commission held a regular meeting.

At this meeting, Nathan Frischkorn was appointed to the Marquette Planning Commission, term ending February 2025, and Kristina Behrens was appointed to the Marquette Public Art Commission, term also ending February 2025 .

Following the nominations, the commission focused on a resolution to continue to participate in the Iron Ore Heritage Recreation Authority and a memorandum of understanding regarding the redevelopment of the old hospital.

The committee unanimously passed the resolution supporting the Town of Marquette’s participation in the Iron Ore Heritage Recreation Authority and its upcoming ballot initiative.

The Iron Ore Heritage Recreation Authority is seeking renewal of its mileage, 0.1970 mill, for six years and will submit ballot wording to the county clerk for the August election. It is estimated that mileage will bring in $123,000 annually in the City of Marquette and a total of $320,000 in all member municipalities including the City of Ishpeming, City of Negaunee, Township of Marquette, Township of Chocolay and the Township of Tilden.

“It’s a remarkable organization that has done remarkable good,” said commissioner Fred Stonehouse. “It’s really one of those examples, I think, where the government actually works and does a job that everyone can recognize the value of.”

The commission then passed a resolution, with one amendment, to approve a memorandum of understanding between the city, the Northern Michigan University Foundation, and the Marquette Brownfield Redevelopment Authority regarding the redevelopment of the old hospital.

The amendment to the memorandum was proposed by Pro-Tem Mayor Cody Mayer. The amendment sought to add the employment of apprentices under an approved regional trades scheme.

“It’s really important to me that we try to employ as many locals as possible and also keep the money here locally in our community, I think that helps accomplish both,”said Mayer.

The proposed project would remove buildings on the property, with the possible exception of the parking deck, to allow for efficient reconfiguration and redevelopment. The estimated level of private investment in this project is $160 million. Redevelopment of this property will require a significant amount of funding from brownfield tax increases to pay for planned eligible activities, including demolition of obsolete buildings, asbestos removal, site preparation and public infrastructure works. The total projected catch is estimated at $39 million over 15 years.

The MoU is not a contract or other legally binding instrument.

The commission has also expressed its desire to see affordable housing happen on this site.

“It’s a good faith agreement, so what comes next are the binding agreements and an agreement is only binding when there is accountability. I think that element of accountability is the element that we then we have to pay very close attention,”said Commissioner Jenn Hill.

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