The Great Lakes Water Authority has approved a 1-percent increase in drinking water and sewer budget for the 2019 fiscal year. The increase is consistent with the authority’s commitment of a 4-percent maximum price hike on an annual basis.
“The authority continues to demonstrate success in keeping costs below our budget cap,” says Sue F. McCormick, CEO of the GLWA, which provides water and wastewater services to 127 municipalities in southeastern Michigan.
The drinking water and sewer services charges will vary by member community and cover all of the authority’s costs of providing water and sewer services. This includes pumping stations, transmission pipes, and treatment plant maintenance and renewal, as well as paying debt service on outstanding bonds issued to fund ongoing capital improvements to the system’s vast infrastructure.
“The budget set last week ensures that the authority will be able to continue operating, maintaining, and improving the regional system,” says Freman Hendrix, chairman of the GLWA board. “The administration’s focus this fiscal year is on infrastructure management, and the budget we’ve set will allow progress to be made, especially on the water side with the use of groundbreaking technology that will be used in a pilot project to assess the section of transmission main that was involved in the break last year which affected a number of communities in Oakland County.”
The charges for the 2019 fiscal year will be passed along to the member partners. Each community must determine what additional costs are necessary to provide service to their individual retail customers based on the operations and maintenance of their local systems. Each member partner sets the end-cost that is passed along to consumers.
Income-qualified residents in GLWA’s service area who have trouble with their water bill have the opportunity to enroll in the Water Residential Assistance Program, which can provide water bill payment assistance, arrearage assistance, water audits and water conservation education, and up to $1,000 per home to fix leaks and other minor home plumbing repairs.
“The board’s action today demonstrates GLWA’s balanced approach to achieving near- and long-term financial sustainability,” says Nicolette Bateson, GLWA’s CFO and treasurer. “This is achieved with controlled annual operating costs combined with a modest annual revenue adjustment dedicated to infrastructure investment and reduced reliance on debt.”