City accepts grant for infrastructure

GLADSTONE — A $770,004 state grant that will fund the creation of plans to manage Gladstone’s stormwater and wastewater infrastructure as well as pay for a study to update the city’s wastewater plant were accepted by commissioners during their regular meeting Monday.

Commissioners unanimously approved a Stormwater, Asset Management, and Wastewater (SAW) Grant agreement with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Michigan Finance Authority which the city initially applied for four years ago, explained Eric Buckman, Gladstone’s water/wastewater superintendent.

Buckman said Gladstone won the SAW Grant “lottery” and was among the municipalities that were computer-picked to be awarded funds this year. A 10 percent match of $85,556 required from the city brings the total project funds to $855,560.

The grant monies are earmarked for three plans, which will be created during a three-year period by the engineering firm C2AE, explained Buckman.

A major portion of the SAW Grant — $562,850 — will be used to develop a wastewater asset management plan while $216,210 will be used to create a stormwater asset management plan.

The infrastructure plans will include updated GIS (geographical information system) mapping of the city’s wastewater and storm sewer systems as well as examinations of the condition of all the city’s manholes and sewer lines, said Buckman.

A total of $76,500 of the SAW Grant will be used to study upgrades needed at the city’s wastewater plant, he added. The project plan will be done in preparation of applying for a state revolving loan to fund the necessary renovations and improvements.

C2AE representative Randy Scott told commissioners the above three studies will be used to identify future short-term and long-term plans to replace and maintain assets related to the wastewater and stormwater systems and upgrade the wastewater facility.

Scott also noted the information will be useful for determining future wastewater rates.

In other business, commissioners received recommendations from the city’s electric supplier — WPPI Energy — regarding proposed future electric rate increases based on a company study.

WPPI representative Nicole Guld said the last electric rate increase took place in Gladstone in 2011. Based on future forecasts, she recommended the city consider a 4 percent increase for residential customers and a 7 percent increase for commercial customers for its upcoming budget year.

The approximate overall 6 percent hike would not be a usage rate increase but a readiness-to-serve charge increase for the utility’s financial stability, Guld said.

The proposed hike would represent an additional $2.95 per month for the average residential customer using 524 kilowatts per month and an additional $15.89 per month for the average commercial customer using 1,777 kilowatts per month, she said.

City Manager Darcy Long said the WPPI recommendations will be considered during the commission’s future discussions of the 2018-2019 budget.

In other action, commissioners appointed Long as Gladstone’s WPPI director and Buckman as the city’s WPPI alternate, as required by the bylaws of WPPI of which Gladstone is a member.

Commissioners unanimously approved a permanent contract with Ron Robinson who has been serving as Gladstone Public Safety Director for the past six months. Robinson was offered the position in June following the retirement of Director Paul Geyer and upon successful completion of six months on the job.

Robinson contract includes a salary of $66,500 beginning June 5, 2017 and a salary of $68,000 beginning Dec. 5, 2017. Scheduled pay raises will occur as outlined in the contract, which will continue until it is terminated by either the city or Robinson.

Commissioners also unanimously approved a net total of $273,523 worth of budget amendments during the current fiscal year. A major budget adjustment included an additional $98,000 in retiree benefits due to more retirements than anticipated this year, explained Business Manager Vicki Schroeder.

Commissioners unanimously approved meeting dates for the 2018 calendar year. The commission meets on the second and fourth Mondays of each month with the exception of Dec. 24, 2018.

In the city manager’s report, Long announced a meeting on Thursday with department heads to discuss capital improvement plans will kick off the 2018-2019 budget process. Additional items of discussion in early 2018 will include a city paperless policy, a dog ordinance update, and utility ordinance updates.

Commissioners concluded Thursday’s meeting with a closed session to discuss pending litigation with the city’s attorney regarding a trial settlement strategy in a lawsuit filed by former city commissioner Michael O’Conner.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, jlancour@dailypress.net


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