Townships consider cost agreements for sewer infrastructure by BETH ALTENA “What you see happening in 2012 is what we anticipated in 1997 and perhaps earlier.” During Plainfield Township’s Monday, July 2 board meeting, Plainfield Township Manager Robert Homan discussed a proposed agreement for the North Kent Sewer Authority (NKSA) management and staff replace the Kent County DPW in providing management and operational services for the North Kent Sewage Disposal System starting October 1 of this year. The board considered aspects of an agreement which will divide up how members of the NKSA will maintain the infrastructure—pipes, motors, lift stations, etc.—which takes wastewater from residential homes and businesses in each community to the wastewater treatment plant on Coit Avenue. The City of Rockford and the townships of Alpine, Cannon, Courtland and Plainfield make up the NKSA. Of the five communities that have been allied in the creation of NKSA, two, Courtland Township and the City of Rockford, would continue maintaining their individual collection systems under the terms of the agreement. Rockford has maintained its own sewer structure with their Department of Public Works for decades. Courtland Township a year ago hired a private company to maintain the sewer lines and take care of any failures of the system as they arise. However, both Rockford and Courtland Township will participate in the agreement as NKSA partners and co-owners of those portions of the North Kent system used by more than one community. An example of this is a large sewer main that runs down Belding Road, carrying wastewater from Courtland and Cannon townships. Homan refers to the document as an addition to the original agreement creating the NKSA. An agreement with Kent County for maintenance of the sewer lines expired in 2008, and was not renewed, but the county agreed to a five-year extension to give communities time to decide how and who would be responsible for the operation of the system in the future. NKSA’s solution is to do it themselves. With a competent staff of six now managing and operating NKSA’s PARCC Side Clean Water Plant and the addition of two former county employees plus one more person, members of NKSA believe by taking the job into their own hands they will maintain better control […]
Plainfield Township Manager Robert Homan
Move is to match real costs ‘It really is minimal,’ says assistant manager by BETH ALTENA Because Consumers Energy rates now rise so regularly and by larger amounts than in years past, Plainfield Township has been unable to match residential payment for street lighting to the residential districts who should be paying for their own lights. The difference, about $50,000 a year, has been coming out of the township’s General Fund, a luxury the township can no longer afford, according to Plainfield Township Manager Robert Homan. He spoke to the board and additional township staff at a special meeting held Monday, August 29. In response to the difference between costs and collections, the township has restructured lighting assessment districts from over 200 down to 13 and will increase lighting assessment rates by 35 percent across the board to catch up residential payment to real costs of paying for residential street lighting. “There is no more equitable way to do this,” said Homan. Homan said in past years the cost of operating a streetlight rose about every 10 years, and by not very much. It was then pretty easy to adjust what residents paid for the lighting in their neighborhood. Around 2005 increases had risen to about every year and it became very difficult to adjust the many districts according to cost increases. According to Homan, residents pay for street lighting in their neighborhoods according to districts scattered throughout the township. Some of the districts were created in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s for which there are no computer records and sometimes are recorded in language that is inconsistent with wording used in lighting assessment documents the township uses today. The township response was to recreate the districts into larger sections and to make all wording in assessment language consistent. Not all residents will be affected. Those with no residential streetlights should not be and won’t be paying the assessment. The township identified 6,100 parcels that are paying for street lighting. In addition, the research turned up about 300 parcels that should have been paying but have not, possibly due to lot splits. They also identified some landlocked parcels with no lighting that should not have been paying the assessment but have been. All parcels currently being […]
by BETH ALTENA Low interest rates are a pain to investors but a chance to save badly needed money for those borrowing. Plainfield Township voted Monday, August 29 at a special meeting, to refund (refinance) 2001 water bonds at a lower interest rate, which will save the township $55,000 over the remaining three years of the bonds. Currently the bonds are at interest rates of 4.25 percent to 4.45 percent. With interest rates at 1.7 percent, the savings are significant enough to undergo the costs associated with refinancing. Warren Smith said the township’s financial advisor Tom Traciak brought the proposed money-saving opportunity to his attention. He said a significant source of savings would be in using a Debt Service Reserve, required at the original time of issuing the bonds to pay off the principal. He proposed using $412,000 of the original $561,000 to pay off the principal. The lower rate and saving paying four percent interest on the bonds would result in saving $55,000 over the remaining three years. It will cost $27,500 in fees and bond underwriting to refinance the bonds. “It’s going to save money and it’s worth doing,” said Trustee Vic Matthews. The refunding was approved by unanimous vote, but will need to be approved by the board at the regular Monday, Sept. 6 meeting.