By a 4-1 vote Monday night, the Owosso City Council voted to increase water and sewer rates 3.6 percent as of July 1, with the billing for that quarter being made at the end of the quarter.
A previous council adopted a table, as recommended by city Utilities Director Gary Burk, that would have meant a 5.1 percent increase July 1, but Burk recommended in a memo for the June 15 meeting that the increase be 3.6 percent by not raising one aspect of the rate table.
Councilman Burton Fox was the lone “no,” saying the city sees an increase in water use during the summer, thus the sewer service revenue also goes up – but much of the additional usage is for gardens, lawns and other uses, so the city never has to pay to have that water go into the sanitary sewer system. Fox said the rates should be lower in the summer, with City Manager Don Crawford saying that if that was done, the city would have to increase rates for the winter to cover costs of the sewage system.
Since Councilman David Bandkau resigned and Councilmember Lori Bailey was absent, Fox’s “no” vote meant the rate increases passed with the four-vote minimum: Councilmembers Elaine Greenway, Rob Teich, Mayor Pro Tem Chris Eveleth and Mayor Ben Frederick.
Frederick said he did not see why the question had come to the council and asked Crawford “if” the amounts were in the 2015-16 budget the council adopted two weeks earlier. Crawford said they were.
However, nothing specific on the rates was listed during budget review sessions or at the budget adoption.
Owosso’s water rate increase means costs for city water system users in Caledonia and Owosso townships increase by double the amount charged for in-city customers. Corunna buys Owosso water wholesale at 10 percent above the cost Owosso residential users pay, so it will also see a water cost increase.
Sewer rates the city increases do not affect other Mid-County governmental area residents, industries and businesses.