Is a rate hike on the horizon for Niles Township?Published 7:30am Thursday, November 7, 2013
Niles Charter Township officials will have to decide if getting a $1 million grant to pay for an in-depth assessment of its wastewater and stormwater systems is worth the strings that come attached to it.
James Hegarty, of Prein & Newhof, a Grand Rapids company the township hired to research and write the grant, briefed the township on the issue during Monday’s regular meeting.
Hegarty said the grant would allow for the development of an asset management plan looking at the infrastructure’s current condition and long-term ownership costs. It would also help the township develop funding plans to meet long-term goals for the two systems.
The stipulation, Hegarty told the board, is that the township would have to meet goals identified by the assessment within a certain time period. To accomplish that, the township would likely have to raise wastewater and stormwater rates, he said.
“I don’t think it will be so onerous as to sink anyone,” Hegarty said. “We can make the financial impact manageable.”
The grant would also come with a 10-percent match and payment schedule of about $50,000 for the first two years and $9,000 in the third year.
Applications are due Dec. 2 at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
Township Supervisor Jim Stover said the board would take the next two weeks to determine what type of a rate adjustment might come with the grant.
He said they plan to make a decision at the Nov. 18 meeting.
If the township applies for and receives the grant, it would get what Hegarty called a world-class global information system, including hardware and training, for the two systems.
The asset management plan would also include pipe and manhole inspection videos and records; a complete pipe, manhole and system asset inventory; condition ratings; and estimated remaining life and replacement cost for each inventoried item.
“It is nothing like we have today,” said Stover. “It is an opportunity for us to get his done at a really reasonable price.”
Hegarty said the MDEQ has about $97 million in grants available to municipalities this year for the asset management plan.
What is the motivation behind giving out the grants?
Hegarty said for years municipalities have been reliant on state and federal monies to build, replace and keep their wastewater systems operational.
He said that trend might not continue, and that the state and federal government wants municipalities to take control of their own stormwater systems.
“They (municipalities) will be able to basically raise the necessary funding at a local level by doing good planning and also by having a much clearer and detailed picture of what is going on with their infrastructure,” he said.
Tags: Niles Charter Township