City leaders are considering raising the cost from the $6.38 per frontage foot along Washington Avenue that was in place this past winter. City Manager Pat McGinnis said $12.26 per foot is recommended.
“It is significantly more per property, but it is the cost you pay to run the system,” he said.
Snowmelt operation is a partnership between the city, the city's Main Street Downtown Development Authority and the Grand Haven Board of Light & Power.
According to officials, when the city set up the system, City Council’s intent was to have the beneficiaries of the system be responsible for its ongoing costs.
The capital cost of the system was covered by a bond and a special assessment. Downtown property owners pay a special assessment on their taxes each year to cover the $500,000 for project capital costs, which is about $6 million.
McGinnis said that the operational cost of the system for the winter of 2010-11 was covered as a project expense. Last year, the city billed for energy use only — a little more than $33,000 minus a $20,000 allocation agreed upon as the value of city crews no longer having to shovel snow from downtown sidewalks.
The city estimated the snowmelt cost $45,412 this past winter. Subtracting the same $20,000 credit for city crews no longer picking up snow, the city is left with $25,412 to be spread amongst all private property owners with frontage on Washington Avenue.
“It’s a very expensive thing to operate,” City Councilman Mike Fritz said.
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