Thursday, May 5, 2022

On tap

Trustees delay resolution supporting water protest

Great Lakes Water Authority plant in Detroit.
Sumpter Township Trustees agreed to delay a resolution supporting the Conference of Western Wayne action protesting a water assessment and increase from the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA).

Deputy Supervisor and township Trustee Tim Rush said while there are currently 18, “soon to be 19” communities supporting the protest of the recent water fees, there was an issue regarding determining the exact amount the township should demand be refunded.

The controversy was sparked in March when communities discovered that the proposed 3.7 percent water and 2.4 percent sewer rate increases were due to the non-payment by Highland Park of $54 million in water service.

Highland Park, according to Conference of Western Wayne sources, did not pay fees for water service provided by GLWA and that deficit was being passed on to the other communities in the rate hike. Members of the Conference of Western Wayne, including Sumpter Township, are demanding to be held harmless for the Highland Park bad debt and are seeking reimbursement of about $14 million already paid to cover Highland Park fees.

Members of the Wayne County Commission are expected to take action regarding the proposed increase in water rate costs by GLWA at their April 12 meeting. Officials from GLWA have sent a letter to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer asking the state to intervene in the controversy. In response, Whitmer's office sent a letter suggesting all the affected parties “work together” to find a resolution.

Sumpter officials agreed to delay the matter until the next scheduled meeting to see if more information would be forthcoming from the state or the Wayne County Commission.

Rush suggested that there were already communities involved in the dispute who were placing payment funds in escrow rather than sending them to GLWA. “We want reimbursement,” Rush said, “which is a significant amount of money we have been assessed.”

“We support the Conference of Western Wayne position,” noted Trustee Matt Oddy, “but we need to deal with the exact amount in dispute.” He said he agreed with Rush's suggestion to move the resolution of support to the next meeting when more information might be available regarding the dispute.

“Maybe the state will step in before it gets to that point,” he said.