Water, sewer rates to increase


Swanton Village Council last Monday approved increases to water and sewer rates in the village. The vote was 5-0 with recently appointed council member Craig Rose abstaining.

The rates will increase on Oct. 1, with further increases in January 2018, January 2019, January 2020, and an automatic increase each year beginning in January 2021. There would be increases each January until amended by ordinance.

The monthly base rate for water will increase from $22.11 to $25.43 on Oct. 1. The base rate would then increase to $26.70 at the start of 2018. There will be a further $1.34 increase for 2019 and $1.40 increase for 2020.

The monthly base rate for sewer would increase from $20.38 to $23.44. The base rate would then increase to $24.61 in January 2018. There will be a further $1.23 increase for 2019 and $1.29 increase for 2020.

Usage rates will also increase, going up 68 cents per 1,000 gallons for water and $1.18 for sewer. Subsequent increases would be 16-17 cents per 1,000 gallons for water and 27-31 cents per 1,000 gallons for sewer.

The increase come on the heels of a third-party rate analysis of the village’s water system, which was completed this past winter.

The last utility rate increase was in 2012. Since then, water and sewer infrastructure projects in the village have exceeded $4 million, a big reason why village officials say the increase is necessary.

“Water and sewer are industries of rising costs due to expanding regulations at the state and federal levels, deteriorating infrastructure as well as increasing operations and maintenance expenses,” Village Administrator Rosanna Hoelzle said previously. “These systems are multi-million dollar assets that require sufficient funding to be maintained both at the present time and in the future.”

At the meeting, Hoelze reported to council that the cost of the next mandated sewer separation project is estimated to be between $1 million and $1.2 million. The project includes Lawrence Avenue, Harrison Avenue, the eastern portion of Church Street, and a small portion of East Garfield Avenue.

The project is planned for next year.

A sewer project in the Airport Highway and Memorial Park area is also planned. The project will cost over $150,000 and is designed to fix longstanding high water issues in the area.

Hoelzle told council she also discussed future sewer separation plans with Jones and Henry engineers. She said the timeline should be evaluated as there are certain roads which should be addressed sooner than the original timeline lays out.

Hospitality

Jason Hamman of the Hamman Consulting Group presented to council results of a study on the feasibility of the hospitality business in the Village of Swanton. He was contracted by the village to prepare the feasibility analysis on the heels of the hotel chain contacting the village regarding interest in Swanton as a potential location.

Hamman went over the market data he collected and other information, such as potential sites for a hotel, which included the Turtle Creek area and vacant land on Airport Highway across from Kroger and Welles Bowen Realtors.

“I do believe that a small to midsize hotel appears to be feasible, assuming that it performs in accordance with the market trends and averages,” said Hamman.

With that in mind, he recommended pursuing recruitment of other complementary retail businesses, such as restaurants, at the same time. “So, while you’re talking to, perhaps, a franchise restaurant, say, ‘Hey, we’re talking with hotel developers, you could have a captive audience if you locate your restaurant directly adjacent to the hotel,’” said Hamman.

He also recommended initiating direct marketing with development influencers and networking at industry events, evaluating the issue of incentives, identifying utilities and infrastructure capacities at development sites.

Zoning Appeals

A public hearing was held for the Committee of Zoning Appeals to hear an appeal on two zoning issues related to the Mail Pouch Saloon at the corner of Airport Highway and Hallett Avenue.

The first related to wall signage at the building. Owner Jamie Wietrzykowski told the committee having a second sign would make his business more visible wouldn’t be different than other businesses on Airport Highway.

Ultimately, the committee overturned the denial of the sign along the west side of the building with the condition that the sign is turned off when the business is closed.

The committee, however, voted 5-0 to deny the placement of two trailers behind the building.

Wietrzykowski said “Those buildings are very crucial to me being successful in Swanton.”

Roger DeGood, Plan Commission member, said that placing of the trailers was denied because they are not structures, and trailers are only allowed in trailer parks.

“I don’t like what you’re trying to do, and how you are trying to use those containers,” said councilman and committee member Mike Rochelle. “I don’t think it’s the right use for the property.”

“I’m trying to bring business to your town and you guys are making it difficult,” said Wietrzykowski.

Other business

• Council approved the resignation of Jace Neal from full time employment in the police division, as well as approved the hiring of Jace Neal for part time employment in the police division. Also, council approved the full time hiring of JD Rahman in the police division.

• Mayor Ann Roth reported that 90 acres in the village would be sprayed for gypsy moths in the spring. Public meetings will be held prior to the spraying.

• Hoelzle reported a fence at the municipal was hit by a resident and will be replaced. She added that the antenna at the site will also be removed as it is no longer needed.

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Jason Hamman of Hamman Consulting Group presents to council on a the feasibility of a hotel in Swanton.
https://www.swantonenterprise.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/23/2017/09/web1_Hotel-Guy-1.jpgJason Hamman of Hamman Consulting Group presents to council on a the feasibility of a hotel in Swanton. Drew Stambaugh | Swanton Enterprise

By Drew Stambaugh

dstambaugh@aimmediamidwest.com

Reach Drew Stambaugh at 419-335-2010