With Contract End Looming, Heights Mayor Creates Ad Hoc Water Plant Committee

Andrew Trzaska | September 24, 2012

With a contract with its two biggest dissolving in less than three years and no apparent new plans to negotiate a contract with them or new customers, the mayor of Muskegon Heights formed a new committee Monday to work on the future of its water filtration plant.

The ad hoc committee will include the city’s water filtration plan manager, city finance direction, city manager Natasha Henderson, mayor Darrell Paige and two other council members – Willie Watson and mayor pro tem Kimberly Sims.

In a prepared statement read during Monday’s meeting, Mayor Paige stated that the need for the committee was driven by the lack of new negotiations with Norton Shores and Fruitport.

In 2011, Fruitport opted to end its contract with Muskegon Heights in 2015. By terms of the original agreement between the three cities, if any of the players opted to end the contract, the whole deal would end, meaning Norton Shores is without a standing water contract as well.

Paige stated that the lack of new negotiations, which ended in a flurry of “final offer” letters in June and July, must indicate that Fruitport and Norton Shores are negotiating with the City of Muskegon, the owner of the only other water plant in the county.

Paige’s statement contained a statement reasoning that the other cities’ motives extended beyond costs.  He cited the Muskegon Heights’ cooperation with a Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce study that concluded Muskegon Heights has the lowest wholesale rates in the county.

“It appears price is not the only motivation,” said Paige.

Monday’s council vote to approve the ad hoc water committee was unanimous.

Andrew Trzaska

103.7 “The Beat” – local government beat reporter and political analyst