Whitehall officials believe its cash reserves can no longer cover increase sewage treatment costs from the Muskegon County system, so city customers will be facing a seven percent sewage rate hike beginning in January.
The city council unanimously approved the sewage rate hike at its Sept. 11 meeting. There will be no increase in the water rates for 2013.
According to the resolution adopted by the council, the current city sewer rate for customers is $3.44 per 1,000 gallons. The new rate will be $3.68.
The city’s current monthly residential bill based on 6,000 gallons usage of $20.64 is the second lowest rate in Muskegon County according to a graph presented to the council, and is the second lowest rate among 19 other communities surveyed across the state.
It’s not reasonable that we are second from the bottom (in sewage rates),” said Mayor Pro-Tem Edd Whalen who made the motion for the sewage rate hike.
“It’s imperative that we don’t dip into the fund balance (this year),” added council member, James Bartholomew.
The city’s 2013 average monthly residential bill of $21.90 will still be at the lower end of a monthly residential bill among municipalities in the county, and less than neighboring Montague’s $25.50.
The resolution said the rate hike will increase the average quarterly city utility bill for a four-person household by $8.64.
The city administration has reported the city’s water and sewer systems have used over $1.2 million in cash reserves to make up a shortage in revenues. The city anticipates using another $360,000 in the next fiscal year.
Muskegon County’s wholesale treatment rate to municipalities is increasing five percent.