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Posted on Tue, May 22, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.

$1.8M in water and sewer rate hikes get initial OK from Ann Arbor City Council

By Ryan J. Stanton

The Ann Arbor City Council gave initial approval Monday night to nearly $1.8 million worth of increases in water, sewer and stormwater rates

The new rates will kick in July 1 once given final approval next month. They're needed to maintain debt service coverage and funding for necessary capital improvements, according to a staff memo from Marti Praschan, a financial manager in the city's public services area.

The rate adjustments will provide revenue increases of 3.25 percent in water, 4.25 percent in sewer and 4 percent in stormwater, according to Praschan's memo.


The Ann Arbor City Council will meet again June 4 to give final approval to the rate increases.

Ryan J. Stanton |

That's projected to increase revenues in water, sewer, and stormwater by $664,834, $916,577 and $184,064 respectively.

The impact of the increases on the average single-family customer is $19.40 per year, a net increase of 3.21 percent if consumption is unchanged from last year, Praschan said.

A public hearing on the rate increases will be held on June 4 before the council votes to give final approval at second reading that night.

The city's drinking water rates for most residential customers are tiered based on usage. The city measures usage in units equal to 100 cubic feet of water or 748 gallons.

A typical single family bill is calculated with 21 units per quarter, is in the second tier for stormwater and receives a 10 percent discount for payment on or before the due date.

But even at the highest rate, the city's charges for drinking water are still significantly less than a penny a gallon.

The city is undertaking one of the largest capital improvement projects in its history: a complete rebuild of half the city's wastewater treatment plant.

City officials say the fact that the city is embarking on such a major project is one reason why utility rates have steadily increased, and why the city's utility funds show surpluses year after year. That money is being stockpiled for projects like this.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Wed, May 23, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

City residents can get credits on their water bills. You can get a little over $5/year just for participating in the county's RiverSafe Homes program and taking a survey. This is free, you just do a little reading, take the survey, and you're done. You can get another $7+/year if you have at least one rain barrel collecting roof runoff. Ours have been quite useful for watering our plants when it's dry (like this week). If you enhance your landscaping with a rain garden, or have a cistern to trap lots of rain, you can get another $11+ credit per year. There are credits for commercial properties too:


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 10:32 a.m.

Aha, more for art. Oh boy.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 4:17 a.m.

Maybe the next art project could be a fountain.

Tom Whitaker

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 1:29 a.m.

The City of Ann Arbor water/sewer/stormwater bills give customers an incredible 10% discount just for paying the bill on time. Assuming most people do pay on time, it would appear the City is missing out on 7-10% of the potential fee revenue it bills for. Instead of raising rates again, why not reduce this on-time discount to 5%? Also, didn't the City accumulate about 3/4 of the necessary funds to pay for the sewage plant improvements before suddently deciding to borrow the money instead? Why the need to increase rates for debt service when we have a huge fund balance to make debt service payments from?


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 11:50 p.m.

Death by a Thousand Cuts. $20 a year doesn't seem so bad, until you add it to the $50 a year for the School Tech Bond, the increased parking rates, etc...


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 11:08 p.m.

Cut fire, cut police, and fund public art by skimming from water and sewer funds, and raise the water and sewer rates! This is totally absurd. Vote these idiots out of office in November.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 11:05 p.m.

You must be joking. The city is RAISING the water and sewer rates and at the same time, skimming off some of those funds for public art????? NO! Vote out these clowns. Janet Lumm is the only council member with any sense of priorities.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 7:43 p.m.

So is any of this money going to go toward fixing leaking lines and improving the flow of water? It is estimated that with so many outdate pipes, that 40%-50% of the water never actually reaches where it is supposed to go. As to the art side, why don't we take all of the money allotted for art and use it for the water and let locals put their art in public places for free. That way they get exposure out in the world, those that want to can purchase the art and art is part of the "scene". With so much red tape and foolishness it is amazing that anything actually gets accomplished.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 2:32 a.m.



Tue, May 22, 2012 : 6:45 p.m.

What a joke... higher taxes yet again, fewer services, but MORE for art... Boooo!!!


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 6:18 p.m.

Call me silly but the project in the WWTP has been in the works for the last 5 or 10 years and in the last 3 has been really brought forward. The project was put out to bid before christmas and awarded 2 or 3 months ago. Long before the council raised the sewer rates or even had intended to raise the rates. So this project was budgeted before this rate increase was taken into consideration or at least I would think so. So where is the money really going?


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 11:05 p.m.

It's getting skimmed off for public art. Keep raising the rates, folks.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 8:30 p.m.

I guess only utility rates have to stay down and everything else will rise.

Alan Goldsmith

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 6:16 p.m.

Meanwhile, from the Budget discussion article: "An attempt by Lumm and Kunselman to reduce the city's public art budget by $307,299 was defeated with no other council members supporting the proposal. They wanted to eliminate about $185,000 in transfers to the art fund from the water, sewer and stormwater budgets, as well as $122,500 in expected transfers from the street millage." So water rates go UP, and art money is skimmed off the top. As well as from street funds.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 2:29 a.m.

Makes me FURIOUS!! I honestly think most people just don't know about it otherwise these idiots wouldn't even try it...


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 11:07 p.m.

Can't wait to get out of this city with warped priorities. Cut fire, cut police, and fund public art by skimming from water and sewer funds, and raise the water and sewer rates! This is totally absurd.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 6:55 p.m.

Glad I don't live in the city anymore and have to grit my teeth over the budgets games they play.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 6:13 p.m.

I don't live in Ann Arbor so it's really none of my business....BUT is this going to be another $ 10,000 + to the "art" fund ?