By Megan Kelley
LAKE ORION — Lake Orion’s village council met on Monday and approved two items regarding the sanitary sewer pump stations upgrade project.
First up, was a request from village administration to approve a contract with Hubbell, Roth & Clark, Inc. (HRC), to complete the design engineering and bid assistance services for the improvement project.
According to village documents, the stations consist of four centrifugal and 12 ejector style pumps that are located in steel canned below grade structures. The current stations were designed by HRC in the 1970’s, which is approximately 50 years, and are nearing the end of their service life, said village Manager Darwin McClary.
Currently, the Oakland County Water Resource Commission (WRC) maintains the sanitary sewer system on behalf of the village but have recently expressed concerns about continuing the partnership if the village does not proceed with plans to upgrade the pump stations.
The financial impact of having HRC create design plans and provide bid assistance is approximately $242,000, according to the village.
The village does, however, have $100,000 that was awarded to them from Oakland County Critical Infrastructure Grant funding that can be used for the project.
In order to receive that $100,000 in grant money, the village would then pay the remaining $142,000, which would likely come from the village’s water and sewer fund that currently has $2.9 million in unrestricted reserve funds, village documents show.
Village engineer Carol Thurber answered several questions from council members, including inquiries on potential cost savings measures, all of which engineers had already looked into and found either no-cost savings or that the measures simply did not work the way they were intended to.
Though the discussion was around the design of the project, Councilmembers Michael Lamb and Nancy Moshier questioned who would foot the bill for the entire $7 million project.
Moshier also added that she, like many in the village, are on a sewer not a pump.
McClary said he believes the cost of the project, under current village policies, should be funded by the entire village customer base, not by just a select few residents.
“My own feeling on this is that our sanitary sewer system is an integrated system, I mean, it all works together. It is not a governmental function; it is what we call an enterprise function. It operates through customer fees. So, my feeling is that the entire customer base is responsible for anything having to do with the sanitary sewer system,” McClary said, adding that that is a village policy and if the council wished to review that policy and find a different way to fund the project, they could.
Lamb estimated that, should the taxpayers be forced to pay for the entire $7 million project, the cost to village residents would round out to an average of about $300 a year in increased sewer bills.
Thurber reminded the council that this item was simply the approval of fees to do the design for the pump station and that engineers will present the entire project within the next month-and-a-half.
The council voted 6-1 to approve the contract with HRC with Moshier casting the lone nay vote.
Lastly, the council unanimously approved an interlocal agreement with Oakland County for the Critical Infrastructure Grant that was awarded to the village in 2022.
Approval of this agreement allowed the village to receive the previously mentioned $100,000 grant from Oakland County.
By Megan Kelley