New Village of Lake Orion water and sewer rates will take effect July 1 to pay for mistake made decades ago, council president says

Residents ‘flabbergasted’ with new rates of 4.7-13.45%

By Joseph Goral
Staff Writer
LAKE ORION — The Lake Orion Village Council voted on Monday to approve new water and sewer rate increases beginning July 1.
Council member Michael Lamb was the only member to vote against increasing the rates. The increases range from 4.7% to 13.45%
The village’s water ready-to-serve charge will increase by 10.52%, and the water commodity charge will increase by 7.28%. The sewer readiness-to-serve charge will increase by 4.7%, and the sewer commodity charge will increase by 13.45%.
Brenda Beyer, who has been a Lake Orion resident since 2011, told the council she is a single, retired woman on a budget. Beyer said she is “flabbergasted,” and asked the council “what happened with the water?”
“I got a $300 bill,” Beyer said. “That’s a car payment.”
Beyer said with this bill, she is paying for a mistake someone else.
“You are absolutely right,” council President Jerry Narsh said. “That should have happened many, many years ago to look at how we can phase in repairing the water system.”
Narsh said fixing the water system became the priority because “you got to have sufficient water pressure” to fight fires. Narsh added that the village came across another failure that was 25-years-old, finding 16 sewer lift stations that are 50-years-old and were ignored.
The direction from the council was to find areas that needed to be fixed and create a plan to do so in phases, and seek additional funding from federal and state sources.
The village recently received a $1.7 million federal grant and applied for another $6 million to handle sewer lift stations, according to Narsh. If the village does not receive the full $6 million in this grant cycle, the village will use the money they do receive and reapply the next year. The $1.7 million is money residents do not need to pay.
“You are correct,” Narsh told Beyer. “We should have done this 25 years ago, so we’re playing catch up.”
Narsh also said development in Lake Orion will help bring down each resident’s cost.
According to village Manager Darwin McClary, the reason for yearly rate changes is to increase rates “in a reasonable manner.” McClary said the village looks at needs of the system, amount of water sold and lost and more.
Another resident, Rosemary Ford, thanked the council for working on errors that may have happened in the past, and said “let’s hope we can fix it to a point where we can get it under control.”
“I know it’s going to sound kind of sad for a politician, but I don’t agree with the proposed rate increases because I don’t think they’re high enough,” Lamb said. “We’re not putting any money into the future fund and I asked before, if it was a dollar a household per year, I would shut up about it, but I’m not.”
Sewer system improvements, including improvements to the sanitary sewer pump stations, will be made now that village authorized publishing a notice of intent to issue revenue bonds and reimburse the village for proceeds of the bonds during a meeting in April.
The village council’s next meeting is 7:30 p.m. on June 24 at Village Hall, 21 E. Church St.

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