City staff close to water/sewer recommendation

ALPENA – During its April 15 meeting Alpena Municipal Council instructed staff to formulate water and sewer rate proposals that would help to solve the city’s failing infrastructure without having a large impact on the customers.

After meeting several times and exchanging ideas, City Engineer Rich Sullenger said staff would like to take an extra two weeks to hammer out details on the recommendations and a report would be made at the May 20 meeting.

“We have developed eight to 10 spreadsheets, which intermingle with each other. We use them to evaluate the impacts that come with the various scenarios,” Sullenger said. “It has been going good, but it’s a balancing act. We’re very close to coming up with what we feel is a palatable solution. It’s not going to be pretty, but I think we knew that after we received our report from Gosling Zubeck.”

Some of the options being explored include bonding some of the more expensive projects that are badly needed, to raising fees to the point where $1 million could be taken from the water and sewer fund to make repairs. No matter what is decided Sullenger said residents will not react well if the change in their bill is too drastic.

“To expect the citizens to go from where we are now and raise fees to make $3.5 million is not realistic to the citizens,” Sullenger said. “That is why we are looking at something less. I don’t know what way will be the right way or the wrong, but the key is to get the rates to where they are the most acceptable and still be able to do some capital improvement plans.”

In other business

City Manager Greg Sundin announced that Joel Jett, who has been serving as the city’s interim police chief, has accepted the job full-time. Jett took over for Kim Miller who retired in June 2011.

the council reviewed the proposed 2013-14 budget and tabled the issue until the next meeting, but can’t vote to approve the new budget until a public hearing is held.

Sundin said the city has been approached with an opportunity to purchase property near its beaches. One is the Alpena Motel which sits on the southern end of Starlite Beach and the second is a home on State Avenue.

Mayor Matt Waligora proclaimed May Older Americans Month.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at