Stories indexed with the term ‘sewer rates’

Higher Ann Arbor Utility Rates OK’d

Higher utility rates – for water, sewer and stormwater – have received final approval by the Ann Arbor city council in action taken at its June 2, 2014 meeting.

Water rates will increase across all tiers of consumption. For the first 7 “units” of water, the charge is will increase from $1.35 to $1.40. For the next 21 units, the charge is proposed to increase from $2.85 to $2.96 per unit. And for the 17 units after that, the increase is proposed to be from $4.88 to $5.08. A unit is 100 cubic feet, which is 748 gallons.

Sewer rates will increase from $3.65 to $3.85 per unit. And stormwater fees would increase for all tiers of impervious service. For the middle … [Full Story]

City Council Action Focuses on Transit Topics

Ann Arbor city council meeting (June 4, 2012): Transportation was the dominant theme of the meeting, as the council took action on items related to the possible development of a new train station in Ann Arbor. The council also took another step toward a possible transition of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority to a geographically wider governance and service area.

Christopher Taylor, Stephen Kunselman, Eli Cooper

From left: Christopher Taylor (Ward 3), Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3), and city of Ann Arbor transportation program manager Eli Cooper. (Photos by the writer.)

First, the council accepted the award of a roughly $2.8 million federal grant to help fund a site-alternatives analysis for possible construction of a new train station. That analysis is meant to result in the confirmation of a locally-preferred alternative to be reviewed by the Federal Rail Administration.

The grant requires a local match of roughly $700,000, which the city expects to make with funds it has already expended – in connection with the Fuller Road Station project, before the University of Michigan withdrew its participation earlier this year. Mike Anglin (Ward 5) and Jane Lumm (Ward 2) voted against accepting the grant.

One of many concerns expressed by Lumm was that the study would not be conducted starting with a “clean sheet,” which city transportation program manager Eli Cooper acknowledged was the case. But Cooper observed that starting with a clean sheet would mean wiping away previous work that had already been done.

Some of that work has been completed by SmithGroup JJR. At its June 4 meeting, the council also approved a $196,192 amendment to an existing contract with the firm – for further site analysis, funded by the new federal grant. Partly on the basis of a perceived conflict of interest by SmithGroup JJR in conducting the current work – given that it had done the previous work on site analysis – Lumm and Anglin also voted against that contract amendment as a two-person minority.

Lumm and Anglin were joined by Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) in voting against a revised agreement among four parties that establishes a framework for possibly creating a larger transportation authority. The four parties to the agreement are the cities of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, Washtenaw County and the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority. In conjunction with reconsidering the four-party agreement, the council also approved articles of incorporation for the new Act 196 transit authority that would eventually need to be filed by Washtenaw County – on request from the AATA – in order to establish a new governance structure.

The council had previously approved the four-party agreement on March 5, 2012. The need for the Ann Arbor city council to reconsider the documents arose after the Ypsilanti city council amended those documents before approving them on May 15. On a unanimous vote, the Ann Arbor city council accepted only those amendments made by the Ypsilanti city council that affected the city of Ypsilanti. The Ann Arbor council majority gained one vote from its 7-4 approval of the agreement in March – Marcia Higgins (Ward 4) switched her earlier position and voted for it. The following day, on June 5, the Ypsilanti city council reconsidered and adopted the version of the four-party agreement that had been approved by the Ann Arbor council.

The result of the action by the two councils is an agreement that the cities will treat their transit taxes differently with respect to a municipal service charge. The city of Ann Arbor will impose the charge and keep roughly $90,000 that would otherwise go to the new transit authority, while Ypsilanti will forward an estimated $3,000 to the new transit authority, rather than applying that charge.

The four-party agreement will next be formally considered by the Washtenaw County board of commissioners – first at a June 14, 2012 working session. It now appears almost certain that the final ratification of all parties to the agreement will not occur with sufficient lead time for a countywide transit millage to be placed on the November 2012 ballot.

In other transportation-related action – affecting pedestrians – the council gave final approval to a revision to the city’s sidewalk repair ordinance. The ordinance revision relieves property owners of responsibility for sidewalk maintenance, during the five-year period of the millage that voters approved for that purpose in November 2011. The revision also provides a mechanism for the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority to pay for sidewalk repairs within its geographic district.

In other business, the council gave final approval to new water, sewer and stormwater rates. It also revived a previous requirement that it had rescinded last year – that a construction utility board (CUB) agreement be signed with the Washtenaw County Skilled Building Trades Council as a condition of award for city construction contracts. The council had rescinded the requirement in deference to a law enacted by the Michigan legislature, but a federal court has since enjoined against enforcement of that law.

In some of its other action items, the council formally made a change in the composition of the Elizabeth Dean tree fund, and authorized two street closings for the Sonic Lunch summer music series in Liberty Plaza. The council also heard public commentary on a range of topics, including a proposed warming center for the homeless. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Council OKs Water Rates

At its June 4, 2012 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council gave final approval to increased rates for drinking water, sanitary sewer and stormwater utilities. According to a staff memo, the impact of the increases on an average single-family customer comes to 3.21% across three different rate increases – assuming the same level of consumption as last year. That 3.21% increase works out to $19.40 per year.

By way of illustration of the rates, the drinking water rate for the vast majority of residential customers is tiered, based on usage. For the first 7 “units” of water, the charge is proposed to increase from $1.27 to $1.31. For the next 21 units, the charge is proposed to increase from $2.64 to $2.74 per unit. … [Full Story]

Water, Sewer Rate Bumps Get Initial OK

At its May 21, 2012 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council  gave initial approval to increased rates for drinking water, sanitary sewer and stormwater. According to the staff memo, the impact of the increases on an average single family customer come to 3.21% across three different rate increases – assuming the same level of consumption as last year. That 3.21% increase works out to $19.40 per year.

Because the water and sewer rates are part of a city ordinance, the council will need to vote a second and final time on the rates, after a public hearing.

By way of illustration of the rates, the drinking water rate for the vast majority of residential customers is tiered, based on usage. For the first 7 … [Full Story]

Beyond Pot: Streets, Utilities, Design

Ann Arbor city council meeting (June 6, 2011, Part 1): While the largest chunk of time at the city council’s Monday meeting was devoted to consideration of ordinances regulating medical marijuana, the agenda was dense with other significant material.

Tom Crawford John Hieftje

Mayor John Hieftje (standing) and interim city administrator Tom Crawford before the start of the city council's June 6 meeting.

For road users who head to the polls on Nov. 8, possibly the most important issue on the agenda was a brief presentation from the city’s project management manager, Homayoon Pirooz, on the city’s street repair tax, which would reach the end of its current five-year life this year, if not renewed by voters. The city council will convene a working session on June 13 to look at the issue in more detail.

Also related to infrastructure was the council’s initial action on setting rates for utilities (water, sewer, stormwater), voting unanimously to send the rate increases on to a second and final vote with a public hearing. The rate increases range from 3-4% more than customers are currently paying. All new and amended city ordinances require two votes by the council at separate meetings.

The council also approved an $800,000 agreement with the Michigan Dept. of Transportation for the initial, right-of-way portion of the East Stadium bridges replacement project. Construction on that public project is due to start later this fall.

For another public project, the council voted to add a previously budgeted $1.09 million to the construction manager contract for the new municipal center at Fifth and Huron.

In an action designed eventually to reduce employee benefits costs, the council passed a resolution – brought forward by its budget committee – that directs the city administrator to craft an ordinance revision that would alter the way non-union employee benefits are structured. What’s planned is a change from three to five years for the final average compensation (FAC) calculation, and a change from five to 10 years for vesting. In addition, retirees would receive an access-only health care benefit.

The city’s newest non-union employee is Chuck Hubbard, whose appointment as the new fire chief was approved by the city council on Monday night. Hubbard was previously assistant chief, which, unlike the chief’s job, is a union position. Hubbard has 25 years of fire protection experience, all of it in Ann Arbor.

Expected to begin construction this year – in late summer – is a private development on the First and Washington lot currently owned by the city. On that lot, Village Green is planning to build a 9-story, 99-foot-tall building featuring 156 dwelling units and a 244-space parking deck on the first two stories. After much discussion, the council approved a $100,000 reduction in the purchase price – from $3.3 million to $3.2 million – that Village Green will pay for the First and Washington parcel. The price break came in the context of water management and a decision to use a full “bathtub”-type design for the foundation. The unanimous vote came after two councilmembers had already left the meeting (which pushed nearly to midnight), but it seemed at one point to hang in the balance, with two of the remaining nine councilmembers expressing reservations. Because the resolution involved land purchase, it needed eight votes to pass.

Village Green’s project, a planned unit development (PUD) approved over two years ago, was not required to undergo the mandatory process of design review that is now part of the city’s code. The council gave final approval to that design review process on Monday night. The new ordinance sets up a seven-member design review board (DRB) to provide developers with feedback on their projects’ conformance to the design guidelines. While the DRB process is required, conformance with the recommendations of that body is voluntary.

Also receiving approval at first reading was a revision to the landscaping ordinance. Fuller Road Station also drew comment from the public and the council.

Final action on medical marijuana zoning and licensing is not expected until the council’s June 20 meeting. Council deliberations on medical marijuana will be covered in Part 2 of The Chronicle’s meeting report. [Full Story]

Utility Rate Increases Get Initial OK

At its June 6, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council gave initial approval to changes in rates for drinking water, sanitary sewer and storm water. In terms of revenue generated to the city, the rate increases are expected to generate 3.36% more for drinking water ($664,993), 4% more for the sanitary sewer ($829,481), and 3.35% more for stormwater ($176,915).

Because the rates are part of a city ordinance, the changes must receive a second approval from the city council, after a public hearing.

According to the city, the rate increases are needed to maintain debt service coverage and to maintain funding for required capital improvements.

The city’s drinking water charges are based on a “unit” of 100 cubic feet – 748 gallons. Charges for residential customers are divided into tiers, based on usage. For example, the first seven units of water for residential customers are charged $1.23 per unit. The new residential rate for the first seven units would be $1.27.

The city’s stormwater rates are based on the amount of impervious area on a parcel and are billed quarterly. For example, the lowest tier – for impervious area less than 2,187 square feet – is currently charged $12.84 per quarter. Under the new rate structure, that would increase to $13.24. [.pdf of complete utility rate changes as proposed]

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link] [Full Story]

Heritage Row Likely to Need Super-Majority

Ann Arbor City Council meeting (June 7, 2010): Speculation that the vote on the Heritage Row project would be delayed was borne out on Monday night. Without discussion, the council postponed votes on the development’s rezoning and site plan until June 21.


Left in the frame, scanning through the protest petition documents, is Scott Munzel, legal counsel for Alex de Parry, developer of the Heritage Row project. De Parry is seated in the row behind with his arms resting on the bench back. In the foreground is Bradley Moore, architect for Heritage Row. (Photos by the writer.)

Councilmembers were also informed that a protest petition had been filed on Heritage Row Monday afternoon, which – once validated – would bump the requirement for approval from a simple six-vote majority to eight out of 11 council votes. Petition filers have calculated that they’ve collected signatures from 51% of adjoining property owners, weighted by land area. That exceeds the 20% required for a successful petition, but as of late Wednesday, the city had not completed its verification process for the signatures. [Update: Early Thursday afternoon, the city confirmed the 20% threshold had been met.]

In other business, the council approved increases in water and sewer rates and gave initial approval to changes in the city code language on the placement of recycling carts.

A wording change in the list of permissible uses for public land was also given initial approval, but not without discussion. Thematically related to land use was a presentation during the meeting’s concluding public commentary in response to a request for proposals (RFP) for the privatization of the city-owned Huron Hills golf course.

Also receiving discussion was an item pulled out of the consent agenda that authorized $75,000 for Ann Arbor SPARK, for economic development.

Criticism during public commentary on the appointment and nomination process used by the mayor to fill seats on boards and commissions stirred mayor John Hieftje to defend shielding individual members of those bodies from public demands.

Public commentary also elicited from Stephen Rapundalo (Ward 1) an update on the development of the Library Lot – he chairs the committee charged with overseeing the RFP process. [Full Story]