Muskegon Heights Raises Sewer Rates in Reaction to County Rate Increases

Andrew Trzaska | September 23, 2013

Muskegon Heights raised the sewer rates charged to its residents Monday, in reaction to a rate increase passed by Muskegon County about a week ago.

Effective October 1, 2013, city residents will now pay a rate of $5.06 per 1,000 gallons to the city. This represents a 5.2% increase from the previous rate of $4.81.

Muskegon County, who operates the countywide wastewater system, set a similar 5.2% rate increase last week.  The county has raised rates in recent memory, looking for new revenues as major customers like Sappi have reduced operations or closed entirely.  Base sewer rates increased by 22% back in 2011 and 6% in 2011.

This round will also pay for capital improvements at the plant.

Wastewater director Mark Eisenbarth calculated the rate increase will be around $0.88 per month for a family of three, based on a figure of 6,000 gallons used in any given month.

“This is a 5.2% rate increase that we are passing onto the consumer, because the County is raising their rates to us,” said City Manager Natasha Henderson.

While sewer rates changed, the city’s water rates did not change at Monday’s meeting.  Customers who receive water bills from the City of Muskegon Heights will see these two costs itemized on their bills, and will see the rate increase take effect on the sewer line item.

The city also unanimously passed a second motion that would raise the city’s income and expenditures in its sewer fund, each value by $18,000. This estimates the extra dollars the city would collect from the rate increase, but immediately offsets it because that money would be paid onward to Muskegon County.

Future sewer rate increases are planned at the county level in 2014 and beyond.

Andrew Trzaska

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