Chelsea City Council Member Frank Hammer has dusted off an old proposal that could provide a starting point in helping Sylvan Township deal with its debt-ridden water system.
Hammer has been a long-time member of the city’s ad hoc committee, which has been in discussions with township officials regarding the township’s water system. He said he recently brought the proposal to Township Supervisor Bob Lange.
“Frank and I have been having conversations,” Lange said, adding, “I think this proposal shows a lot of consideration for both Sylvan and Chelsea.”
In fact, Hammer said, an almost identical plan was first proposed to township officials in 2006, but at the time, it wasn’t given much consideration.
Since then, the township lost a lawsuit brought by developers, and is on the hook for about $12.5 million in bonds, and other debt, for a sewer and water system that most of the township can’t use and doesn’t have enough customers to support.
In August, township residents narrowly approved a ballot proposal by seven votes to tax themselves 4.4 mills for the next 20 years to pay off the debt.
Here’s a look at some of the key points in the proposal.
- The city would take over the 100-plus water customers currently on the water system, and pay for the inter-connection (between the two systems) via the tap fees paid by the residents, with a final tap fee to be determined.
- The city would use and maintain the Sylvan water tower, the water lines and “try to keep the pumps in working order,” according to the proposal, but the reverse osmosis system would be shut down, at least temporarily.
- The city would bill the township for those repairs and maintenance. Sylvan Township would bill its and pay the city for water, plus add a 10-percent administrative fee to the bills.
- The township would be permitted to expand service within its borders at the city’s current tap fee rate, plus an administrative fee, and the township would pay the city for the tap fees.
- When an expansion is needed in the township service area, the city would bring the RO system back online, and Sylvan would be responsible for half the cost. The city would be paid 2/3rds of the water rate, because the Sylvan RO system would be 1/3 of the system, according to the proposal.
- The township and the city would establish a joint water board to run the joint system. In the future, the city would be willing to discuss shifting the sewer lines from Leoni Township and re-routing them to the city’s wastewater treatment plant. At this point, the township and city may wish to create a joint water and sewer board.