Rockford unanimously approves NKSA agreement

City joins Cannon Township in agreement that is expected to save money, improve services

by BETH ALTENA

Rockford City Council discusses the benefits of the new cost-sharing agreement for the North Kent Sewer Authority. Ten years in the works, the agreement covers work formerly outsourced to the Department of Public Works of Kent County, which is no longer willing to perform that role.

“This does not sound like an exciting item, but it is very exciting,” said Rockford City Manager Michael Young.

Young was describing a proposal before the board for cost-sharing different elements of the North Kent Sewer Authority (NKSA), including maintenance of components such as pipes and lift stations and routine or emergency repairs.

“A lot of people think we founded the NKSA in order to build the treatment plant. [Building the plant] was an exciting opportunity along the way and we took it, but that wasn’t why we formed the Authority,” he said Monday, July 9, during the regular monthly city council meeting.

Young told the board the reason the NKSA was formed a decade ago was in response to what members considered less-than-adequate care of sewer infrastructure done by the County.

“This is a big deal for us. It’s been a long time coming,” Young told council. “I am a firm believer in you can do a better job if you do it yourself. I highly recommend we approve this contract.”

The board unanimously approved the 10-year agreement with a motion by Mayor Pro Tem Brien Dews and a second by Councilwoman Mary Eadie, who has served on the council for 35 years.

Members of the NKSA include the City of Rockford and the townships of Alpine, Cannon, Courtland and Plainfield. Together the member communities formed the alliance in 1997 and together built a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant on Coit Avenue in Plainfield Township, which began operations in 2008.

Included in the agreement are provisions for jointly held elements of the NKSA infrastructure, including pipelines used by all members, and individually owned parts, such as pipelines and lifts which are within township boundaries and used by each township. Staff at the PARCCside Wastewater Treatment plant have been working closely with Kent County Department of Public Works to seamlessly transfer operations from the County to NKSA.

NKSA staff of four has increased by one former County worker familiar with the job and will increase by two more after hiring Gary Seger, utility services superintendent, and one additional staff member to perform the new duties.

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