Bonds OK'd for sewer system improvements

Alex Doty • Mar 7, 2018 at 2:00 PM

The City of Grand Haven is helping to get the ball rolling on $14 million worth of planned improvements to the local sewer system later this year.

City Council on Monday night voted unanimously to approve its participation in an agreement with Ottawa County and all local participating municipalities to finance the proposed improvements to the wastewater treatment system.

“It’s a collaborative venture among all of the units involved in the Grand Haven/Spring Lake Sewer Authority,” City Manager Pat McGinnis said.

Sewer system improvements will include an upgrade to the Spring Lake/Ferrysburg force main, improvements to the treatment plant headworks, and work at various sewer lift stations in Ferrysburg and Grand Haven.

McGinnis said the leak in the force main under the Grand River in 2017 “ignited the need for this project,” and he also noted that an asset management plan identified improvements at the sewage treatment plant.

“These are all needed improvements,” he said.

At its Feb. 21 meeting, the sewer authority approved the construction of the projects and authorized the Ottawa County Road Commission to finance the project through the sale of Act 342 bonds. Act 342 authorizes counties to establish and provide water, sewer or sewage disposal improvements and services within or between cities, villages and townships. 

Working through the county, the sewer authority is able to achieve several benefits, including favorable bond rates for borrowing funds due to the county's AAA bond rating.

The local communities will only be paying for portions of the project that affect their municipality. This means City of Grand Haven customers will pay the bonds for 100 percent of the Adams Street work, and a little more than half of the costs of the headworks project and the other local lift station project.

“It’s a revenue bond to be paid for with sewer rate increases,” McGinnis explained. “That is the recommended way to go, to let the sewer users pay for improvements to the sewer system.”

According to the agreement approved by City Council on Monday night, the rate impact on city users will be about 50 cents per 1,000 gallons of usage.

Also Monday night, Ferrysburg City Council approved its agreement to participate in the bond with the county.

It’s expected that the other participating municipalities will approve their portion of the agreement later this month.

The cost breaks down as follows: Grand Haven Township at about 7.5 percent, the City of Grand Haven at 27.4 percent, the Village of Spring Lake at 9.3 percent, Spring Lake Township at about 36 percent and Ferrysburg at 19.6 percent. 

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