Alpine Township unanimously passes sewer agreement

Fourth township of five approves NKSA maintenance contract

Larry Campbell of the North Kent Sewer Authority drinks a glass of treated wastewater during a 2008 open house of the facility. The treated water is cleaner than the water in the Grand River, to which it discharges. Looking on is Plainfield Township Supervisor George Meek.

In a special meeting held 8 a.m. on Wednesday, July 25, the Alpine Township Board of Trustees unanimously voted to approve a contract to allow staff at the North Kent Sewer Authority (NKSA) to provide service and maintenance for the sewer system within the township.

Board members in attendance were Supervisor Alex Arends, Clerk Jean Wahlfield, Treasurer Jim Townsend and trustees Ron Cordes, Jim May, Ted Wallace, and Bill Schweitzer. The motion to approve the contract was made by Schweitzer with support of Wallace to approve the Collection System Service agreement for the sewage disposal system.

Arends commented on correspondence received from Mike Oezer (Progressive Engineering), the Alpine Township engineer, regarding competitive bids from Operations and Maintenance. In discussions with Bowne Township, he was quoted 60 to 80 dollars an hour for typical operations and maintenance.

Township Attorney Jeff Sluggett (Bloom, Sluggett, Morgan) raised questions in earlier correspondence, and NKSA Attorney Jim Scales addressed them.

Discussion was centered about costs and, based on the numbers available, NKSA will have a lower hourly rate than Bowne. Studies to date show the rate will also be lower than the current DPW rates and will be cheaper than a private contractor rate. The board believed that at this time the logical thing to do was sign the agreement.

NKSA Director Larry Campbell provided a draft Work Plan to Arends last week. The Work Plan is due by August 1, 2012.

“There is a changing philosophy taking place with the transition from DPW to NKSA. The members will each work with their own budgets; the input from Alpine will determine scheduled cleaning and maintenance,” Campbell said.

The changes are different from Kent County DPW based on past history. In comparing the “old” way to the “new” way, Alpine can determine its needs.

Campbell commented that Alpine has 42 miles of sewer lines. The goal of the Work Plan is to prevent backups, reduce I/I (inflow and infiltration), introduce a five-year cleaning cycle, and continue with routine maintenance.

Once the Board adopts the August 1, 2012 Work Plan, then NKSA has until October 1 to implement the plan.  (DPW turns the system over to NKSA on October 1, 2012.)

The final work plans then go back to NKSA board for adoption.

Campbell commented that he has been reviewing DPW reports; Gary Seger and Mark Prein are also working on the plans. Initially, Seger suggested adding in a line item for vehicle repairs and addition chemicals. Campbell also commented that Alpine was not as big a chemical user as other northern users.

The Capital Improvement program is defined and is not included in the man hour costs.

He gave an example of the DPW’s purchase of a vactor truck; in order to pay for the truck, the DPW scheduled cleanings that may not have been necessary.

Campbell then commented that their program involves immediate response for problems, inspections, monitoring grease traps, and other similar services. He mentioned that NKSA is already paying the electric bills for the lift stations and then passing them back to Alpine for payment. The work plan preparation started six months ago.

He suggested that Alpine appoint a committee to review sewer that could include Board members, residents on sewer, and the Planner. Both Cannon and Plainfield townships have these committees who make recommendations to the Board for necessary work, repairs, etc. based on the available budget and they make recommendations for the respective budgets. They help with the capital improvement plan based on data from Prein & Newhof.

Cordes asked if the language in the agreement was the same as previously presented, because the attorney indicated some minor tweaking. Arends commented that this is the same agreement presented to the other members who have approved it. Arends commented that essentially “we were signing an agreement with ourselves.” Minor tweaks and changes could be made to the agreement in the future. Townsend stated that he was prepared to vote in favor of the agreement as long as those changes suggested by Sluggett were made.

The vote was taken by voice and was yes from all seven: Arends, Wahlfield, Townsend, Cordes, Schweitzer, Wallace and May.

Of the four member communities to pass the agreement (Alpine, Cannon, Plainfield and the City of Rockford), only three individuals voted no to the agreement: Plainfield Township Clerk Scott Harvey, Cannon Township Treasurer Jim LaPeer, and Cannon Township Trustee Rob McBrien.

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