water authority ready to go
The Huron Daily Tribune
AXE - After almost eight months of working alone, the city
and the Village of Port Austin are once again partners in
an effort to bring treated Lake Huron water to both communities
as a result of the city council voting unanimously Monday
to join the village in a new water authority.
Council accepted the articles of incorporation for the Huron
Regional Water Authority, which will have two members from
each community on its board of directors.
Terrence Donnelly, attorney with the Detroit-based law
firm of Dickinson Wright and legal advisor for the city
on water issues, told council the new articles of incorporation
are similar to the document which established the previous
Port Austin/Bad Axe Regional Water Authority (which included
Port Austin Township) except that only the village and
the city are members now and each community has two members
each instead of one.
order to have a quorum, all four members would have to
be present and all four members would have to agree (on
any issue)," Donnelly said.
In March, the village council voted to pull out of the
authority saying they didn't think the village's interests
were best served by membership. The original authority,
which is now just the city and the township, must be dissolved
and Donnelly said that process has begun.
In October, the city and village councils accepted a memorandum
of understanding about establishing a new authority. The
memorandum states that the city and village would share
costs for construction of a water treatment plant to be
built on village property on Spring Street. The plant
is expected to cost about $9 million, and the city's portion
would be $6 million. All future capitol and operation
and maintenance costs for the plant would be shared by
the city and village based on usage.
The village's current lake water intake pipe would be
used to bring water to the new plant. There is about $900,000
in debt remaining on the pipe, and if the village is unable
to refinance it, the city would help pay the debt based
The new authority will be involved with production of
treated water only, Donnelly said. It will establish the
price for treated water sold to the two governments, who
then will determine individually how much to charge customers.
The village's service area will be the village and the
areas to the east and west along the lake, Donnelly said.
The city's service area will be the city and south from
the village limits along the M-53 corridor. Each community
can make deals individually with other communities to
sell water, but in order for any other community to join
the authority, both members have to agree. In order to
join the authority, a community must take on the financial
obligation of establishing an infrastructure to receive
water and help with the authority's debt.
When he talked to city council in October, Donnelly said
once the authority board starts meeting, they can apply
for low interest loans from the federal Rural Development
to finance construction of the treatment plant.
Councilwoman Tammy DeBoer said she was concerned about
the village withdrawing from the authority again, but
Donnelly said that can't happen.
you have some sort of financial obligation, you can't
unilaterally dissolve the authority," he said.
Now that the document establishing the water authority
has been accepted by both communities, Donnelly said the
authority contract, which describes its operation must
be completed and should be ready to sign sometime in January.
just tweaking the language, now," he said.
Mayor Jim Leonard said the contract will establish how
the partners will be charged for treated water, how the
treatment plant will be operated and maintained and who
will operate and maintain it.
Council unanimously elected Leonard and Lou Ligrow, city
department of public works director, as the city's representatives
on the water authority board.
Although its contract isn't ready, Leonard said the authority
board can start meeting immediately.
may have a meeting in December," he said.
At its first meeting, the board will probably hire an
attorney and an engineering firm, both of which are required
for the authority to receive federal loans, Leonard said.
City attorney John Ferris said although many plans to
bring treated water to the city have been discussed during
the past four years, including building a well water treatment
plant, he thinks the new authority plan will be good for
really believe this is the thing to do," he said. "Ten
years from now I think we're going to say we're glad we