St. Clair Council eyes raising water rates

St. Clair council members met for a special budget meeting Tuesday night at city hall. Superintendent Mike Booth went over figures that he would be presenting in next week’s meeting. (Jeffrey Smith | Times Herald)

St. Clair council members met for a special budget meeting Tuesday night at city hall. Superintendent Mike Booth went over figures that he would be presenting in next week’s meeting. (Jeffrey Smith | Times Herald)

By Tony Wittkowski | Local Government Reporter | The Times Herald

ST. CLAIR – The St. Clair Council may consider raising water rates as it moves toward piecing together the city’s 2015-16 budget.

The council held a special meeting Monday to discuss the budget.

But the full budget won’t be before them until May 4. Tuesday the council was only given an overview of some portions of it.

“I didn’t want to hand out too much material tonight because I haven’t gone over it with all of the departments yet,” said Mike Booth, city superintendent. “Next Monday I will give each council member a preliminary budget.”

How much the budget will see in revenues or expenditures was not discussed at the meeting.

Booth said the majority of incoming revenue will come from St. Clair’s increase in property taxes. He said it will offset the city’s fringe benefits like employee health coverage.

However, Booth said he will recommend an increase in water rates in order to replace the water line’s aging infrastructure.

“Some of those pipes are rusting out,” Booth said. “Going forward we need to increase the (water) fund’s balance. I haven’t done a full review of it, but I will come back with more figures on this.”

Councilman Tom McCartney said he was in favor of raising water rates.

“I think we should be moving in that direction,” he said. “We have to keep that stuff up to speed.”

A public hearing on the city’s budget is scheduled for May 18.

Booth said the council has to approve a budget by June 15.

The council also continued its discussion on asking voters for a streets tax. Booth said if the council wanted to move forward with it, the voters would see a proposal on the November ballot.

“I think we should hold off on deciding what the millage increase should be until after the election next week,” Mayor Bill Cedar said, citing the statewide Proposal 1 vote May 5.

City Clerk Annette Sturdy said applications are now being accepted for the city’s Ward 3 council member seat — made vacant from the death of council member Jane Krebs.

Residents interested in applying must be a registered voter in Ward 3 and are requested to submit their letter of interest to the council on or before May 11.

The intention is to appoint a new council member on May 18.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at (810) 989-6270 or twittkowsk@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on April 28, 2015)

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