Limited use of water meters addressed at Sheridan meeting

By Mike Taylor • Last Updated 11:04 am on Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Members of the Sheridan Village Council consider a resident’s request for reduced water rates at commercial properties. — Daily News/Mike Taylor

SHERIDAN — The idea of installing water meters at an apartment complex was again at the forefront of business for the Sheridan Village Council on Tuesday.

Sheridan chiropractor and landlord Douglas Willemin has been trying for several months to convince the council to approve the installation of meters — at the village’s expense — at one or more of the apartment buildings he owns in town. His current water rates, he contends, are far greater than the actual usage at his properties.

Village Superintendent Doug Lane conceded that this is most likely true, but not just for Willemin’s properties. Lane noted that there were probably several single family homes in the village with a single resident that were paying higher rates than their actual usage would indicate.

Lane has been researching the possibility of installing meters at one or more of Willemin’s properties, but advised council members that the cost would probably be prohibitive. Lane estimates installing meters at all Willemin’s properties would cost the village between $3,000 and $4,500, after which, the village would in turn be receiving less revenue from the properties.

“Why spend $3,000 on meters and turn around and lose money on water rates?” Lane said. “Can the village even afford to take that big of a hit?”

Councilman Daryl Bush agreed, saying, “We’re treading pretty thin right now. We’re paying our sewer debt this year and maybe will have enough to pay it again next year. After that we’ll need another rate increase.”

Bush suggested, as an alternative, that the village simply give Willemin a cost break on his current water bill.

“I would be content if the village would decrease my bill by 33 percent,” Willemin said. “I think the (metered) savings would be more than that, but I would be content with 33 percent.”

Bush suggested a reduction of 25 percent instead.

Councilman Don Nassif noted that Willemin’s properties benefit the village, saying, “All your properties add value to the community. I think you’re in your rights to request a meter if you really want one.”

Nassif added that Lane might be able to bring the cost of the meters down were he to “shop around” for them.

Willemin stressed that he was in no way trying to “hurt the village” by requesting the reduction in water rates.

“I’m not trying to offset the (recent) rate increases,” Willemin said. “It’s just done kind of inequitably.”

Lane noted the village may be converting to a metered water system in the next few years anyway, in order to qualify for state infrastructure grants. The problem, he said, is that if meters were installed now at Willemin’s properties, they might not be compatible with future village-wide upgrades. They would, in essence, represent money wasted.

Councilman Harold “Buck” Arrington commented if the village were to grant Willemin a reduced water rate for his properties, it would be no time at all before other businesses and individuals made similar requests.

Village President Susan Wyckoff-McFarland suggested the village consider other options prior to voting on the matter.

“We have questions that need to be answered,” Wyckoff-McFarland said.

The issue was tabled pending further research.

In other business, the council voted to again hire an animal control service to do a “goose round-up” sometime in June. The geese have in recent years made the village’s beach all but unusable, due to their large numbers. Last year, however, the village hired a service to remove the geese, which proved successful.

The service charges $400 for the capture and release elsewhere of the first 50 geese and $6 per bird after that. Additionally, the village must pay a $200 licensing fee to the state of Michigan to conduct the operation.

“(Last year) they did a good job,” said Wyckoff-McFarland. “The beach was a lot cleaner than in previous years. Volunteers helped with their boats. They moved them in and caught them, then took them off to Gooseland, I don’t know.”

Finally, the council discussed the possibility of again hosting a spring clean up day, probably toward the end of May. Last year’s effort was a success and the council is hopeful the program will grow each year. The council will find out which dates the waste disposal company used last year has open and will notify residents prior to the event once a date is set.

The council meets next on May 13.

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