Village council discusses water and sewer rate study, MI fire insurance withholding program

Boat dock slips for village-owned docks increase, up for purchase on March 1

By Megan Kelley
Review Writer
LAKE ORION — Lake Orion’s village council moved forward with approval of several items on the Jan. 9 agenda including a water and sewer rate study, joining the Michigan fire insurance withholding program and adopting new boating dock policies and fees.
Up first was a request from village administration to eliminate the current 150 permit limit on boat dock permit sales, authorize administration to begin selling permits on April 1 each year and have administration create a system for monitoring and enforcing boat dock usage time limits.
The docks in question are the village-owned boat docks at Pelton Point and Green’s Park.
In the past, boat dock permits have been an issue with residents who were unable to purchase their permit before the village hit the 150 limit.
“The limit, as far as I can tell, serves no rational purpose. It arbitrarily limits the revenue stream to the village to prevent sales and leads to an unnecessary rush by the public to purchase the limited number of permits,” said village Manager Darwin McClary.
As far as formulating a system for monitoring and enforcing time limits, McClary added that he had several ideas that were “reasonable, manageable and cost effective” that he plans to present to the council at a future meeting.
Council President Pro-tem Teresa Rutt made the motion to eliminate the permit limit and allow village administration to look into ways to monitor and enforce dock usage time limits.
Rutt added that she would like the public to be able to purchase their permits on March 1 to give the residents adequate time to prepare for the start of the season on April 1.
“I agree with Mrs. Rutt, because otherwise you’re going to have a rush here April 1,” said Councilmember Ken Van Portfliet. “It will give you 30 days to help alleviate it.”
Councilmember Michael Lamb’s comments regarding enforcement were a simple; “parking meters.”
Councilmember Sarah Luchsinger was concerned about not having a permit limit, saying that the docks on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights are almost always full, adding that an enforcement and monitoring system would help alleviate some of those issues.
“Even if we sell 150 permits in a season, that is not going to eliminate the problem that we run into at peak times. This is my rationale: the people who own boats and purchase these permits, they purchase the opportunity to be able to dock their boats at the publicly owned docks. They’re not guaranteed a reservation, a space anytime they want it. They are purchasing the opportunity. So it doesn’t matter how many permits we sell, it’s first-come, first-served,” McClary said. “The limitation of 150 permits did not make sense to me.”
Luchsinger suggested the administration does not allow limitless permits this year, try out a higher number of permits instead and give themselves time to implement an enforcement system.
Despite the suggestion, several council members agreed with McClary on the issue of “fairness” and Rutt’s motion remained unchanged. The council voted unanimously to eliminate the 150 boat dock permit limit, to allow village administration to begin selling permits on March 1, and to have administration look into enforcement and monitoring systems.
Water and Sewer Rate Study
Up next, the council voted unanimously to authorize comprehensive water and sewer rates study, as well as create a task force to look into potential issues which would include Lamb, Van Potfliet and Councilmember Carl Cyrowski.
The last water and sewer rates study done in the village was in 2015.
Village administration is expected to use the Michigan Rural Water Association (MRWA) for the study, and because the village is a member of the association, the study will be at no cost to the village.
Fire Insurance Withholding Program
The council unanimously voted to adopt a resolution authorizing the village’s participation in the Michigan Fire Insurance Withholding Program.
“The program helps to protect municipalities financially if they must clean up properties damaged by fire or explosion if a property owner fails to do so within a timely fashion,” McClary said.
Municipalities can also use the funds to clean up properties damaged by vandalism, malicious mischief, wind, hail, riot or civil commotion.
There is no cost associated with participating in the program.
“If we have a fire or another incident that is covered, within our community, the insurance companies are required before they disperse insurance proceeds, to determine whether or not the property owner is cleaning up that property. If they do not, the insurance company is required by law to submit 25 percent of the insurance proceeds to the village,” McClary said.
“We place those funds in an escrow fund to be used for cleanup if we have to. If the property owner does proceed to clean up the property, we would then refund those monies to the property owners. If they do not, we can move ahead with cleaning up the properties ourselves,” he said.

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