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Kingsford council sets higher water, sewer rates

KINGSFORD — The Kingsford City Council on Monday approved raising water and sewer rates in the city starting July 1.

The monthly flat fee for water will rise by $3.50 per month, and sewer flat fees by $1.75 per month. The total monthly increase of $5.25 will allow the city to cover costs this budget year but additional rate hikes may be needed in the future, said City Manager Tony Edlebeck.

As in Iron Mountain, which has also increased its rates, Kingsford has service connections containing lead that must be replaced over the next 20 years. The number of lead “gooseneck” connections has been inventoried at about 1,480, with replacement costs estimated at $9.5 million.

Despite the increase, Kingsford’s rates remain low in comparison to other Upper Peninsula communities, Edlebeck said. The typical water and sewer charge for 5,000 gallons of usage in a month will climb to $10.40 per month in flat charges, plus $12.85 in water usage charges and $26.70 in sewer usage charges for a total of $49.95. That compares to about $66 per month under Iron Mountain’s new rates, which are also below most other U.P. municipalities.

After the Flint water crisis, Michigan directed communities to replace all lead service lines by 2040. The order includes small sections of lead pipe, taking the shape of a gooseneck, that were used many decades ago to allow a flexible connection between rigid delivery mains.

The council, in other action, unanimously authorized Edlebeck to hire Van Ert Electric Co. at $107,383 to upgrade mechanical and electrical operations for wells 6 and 7 in the Cowboy Lake area.

The bid was lowest among five opened May 4. The others were G. Brooks Electric of Iron Mountain, $127,608; Mueller LLC of Porterfield, Wis., $120,260; M.J. Electric LLC, Iron Mountain, $142,665; and J. Ranck Electric of Mount Pleasant, Mich., $162,252.

In other business, the council —

— Gave the Breitung Township School District permission to have a vehicle parade on Pyle Drive starting about 9:30 a.m. June 6 as part of the Kingsford High School Class of 2020 graduation. Pyle Drive will be closed to traffic about one hour while the caravan goes from Woodland Elementary to the high school, where seniors either will get their diplomas or advance to Flivver Field for additional ceremonies.

— Tapped Steven Hodgins to serve on the Citizens Advisory Committee for a three-year term.

— Scheduled a public hearing on the 2020-21 fiscal year budget for 6:45 p.m. June 1 via Zoom. The total proposed millage levy is 22.237 mills, or $22.24 per $1,000 in taxable value, down from 22.932 mills, or $22.93 per $1,000 in taxable value. The decline of about 70 cents per $1,000 in taxable value is due to a drop in the police and fire pension millage.

— Noted that, due to Memorial Day, garbage collections will be one day later than normal next week.

As the online meeting opened, someone who tapped in blasted a recording repeatedly shouting, “Coronavirus!” The interruption eventually was muted and did not return.

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