New meters may result in reduction in Scottville water rates. 

August 3, 2021

New meters may result in reduction in Scottville water rates. 

SCOTTVILLE — Residents and property owners in the City of Scottville may see a reduction in their water rates in the future, if City Manager Jim Newkirk’s predications are correct. Newkirk reported to the Planning Commission Tuesday, during its regular monthly meeting, that investigations have shown that currently (and for quite some time) over 40% of the water the city purchases from the City of Ludington is unaccounted for, meaning that water customers end up paying more to make up for the loss. Newkirk said the average water loss among municipalities is 20%. 

“Scottville has had a significant water loss for a long time,” Newkirk said. “One of the things we have discovered is that many of the meters in the town are very old and outdated, especially with some of our biggest customers such as Gourmet Mushrooms and Mason County Central Schools.” 

That is changing, Newkirk said. The Gourmet Mushroom plant’s water meter was recently replaced. Newkirk said the plant had been paying the same amount per month as an average family of four in the city. 

“It’s pretty obvious that the plant uses much more water than that,” Newkirk said. “The new, more accurate meter should show actual water usage.” 

Equally, the water meter at MCC High School is the original water meter from when the building was built in 1959. New meters have been ordered and will be installed at the high school, middle school (built in 1976) and Scottville (lower) Elementary (built in 1951, meter was replaced about 20 years ago). 

“Most of the residential meters are much newer than the commercial meters in town,” Newkirk said. 

City water customers currently pay $4.10 per 1,000 gallons plus a ready to serve fee. Newkirk said if his estimates are accurate, water rates could be reduced to $3.85 per 1,000 gallons. The current rate generates annual revenue of $309,150. The reduced rate would generate $290,299 per year, a $18,851 a year difference, which could be passed down to the consumer, Newkirk said, adding that the city would still need to meet debt obligations for water and sewer systems. 

The water and sewer account is known as an enterprise fund. It is separate from the city’s operating millage, by law. Funds from an enterprise account are dedicated to that particular service and cannot be used elsewhere within the city’s budget. 

Newkirk also told the planning commission that he would like to see a tiered water rate, charging different rates for residential customers, commercial customers and industrial customers. 

“This is going to be a work in progress and we will always pay more than Ludington because we buy our water from them,” Newkirk said. “We have a great relationship with the City of Ludington and I can’t stress how helpful Water Treatment Plant Superintendent Jamie Hockenmeyer and the staff at the Water Treatment Plant have been.”

Newkirk thinks it may be possible that within the next couple of months he may recommend City Commission consider lowering water rates. 

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