CADILLAC — Cadillac City Council has voted to raise water and sewer rates in the city.
At its Monday night meeting, all members present voted to increase water rates by 10% and sewer rates by 1.5%.
Cadillac City Councilman Stephen King was not present for the votes.
With the 10% water increase approved by the council, a user with 5/8 inch pipes will have a service charge per month of $7.24, in addition to the commodity charge, which will be $1.52 per month for 0-600 cubic feet of water.
With the 1.5% sewer increase approved by the council, a metered user with 5/8 inch pipe will have the flat rate per month of $10.77, in addition to a monthly commodity charge of $2.50 per 100 cubic feet of metered water used.
For unmetered users, the base rate fluctuates depending on the number of living, dining, bedrooms and kitchens in a home, in addition to other factors.
Cadillac Director of Finance Owen Roberts presented the proposed rate increases at the meeting and said the average monthly bill for a water and sewer user within the city will go up between $1.90 to $2.08 per month.
He said they recognize the challenge that comes from having to pass along proposed rate increases and the impact on people and their budget.
“So we don’t take the process lightly,‘ he said.
There’s a process of trying to balance conservatism with the aggressive need to continue to invest in the infrastructure, he said.
The justification for the increased rates is the upcoming construction of an $8 million well field on 44 Road, which will be paid for with a low-interest loan.
The city will also be relocating the operations of the water department out to the new well field site with the goal of closing up shop on the current water department site and hopefully making that parcel available for redevelopment, Roberts said.
He understands there is an increase in people’s bills, “but it’s a manageable and I think a prudent and defensible rate increase, especially as we talk about some of the things we’ve been able to do.‘
He also brought up that Cadillac’s rates are relatively low compared to other communities.
According to a Gosling Czuback 2017 water and sewer rate study where the company surveyed 77 communities, the typical water monthly bill, based on a 4,500 gallon usage, was $28.66 while Cadillac’s was $14.39.
The typical sewer bill was $40.38 while Cadillac’s was $24.62, according to the 2017 study.
The proposed rate increase amounts were determined by a study by Baker Tilly, a municipality advisory company, Roberts said.
Along with the proposed increase Monday, the study also identified a need for a 5% increase in 2021. Then the city can maintain more of inflationary-type adjustments each year, Roberts said.
Cadillac resident Randy Lindell spoke during public comment and reminded the council of King’s past words on the rate hike, that the idea of raising rates “caused great angst‘ for the council.
“I know they’re justifiable, you need the revenue,‘ Lindell said, but he didn’t think taxpayers should have to pay more, but rather industries in the community.
“They should carry the burden on their shoulders,‘ he said.
Mayor Pro-Tem Shari Spoelman said it was hard to look at a 10% rate increase at face value. However, the city’s rates are already relatively low for an excellent water and sewer system and “it really isn’t that much.‘
Council member Tiyi Schippers said she hated raising the rates.
“But I get it,‘ she said. “You know, we have to pay for the good things that we have. That’s just the way it is.‘