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Published: Wednesday, 3/14/2012

Connection to Sylvania sewers backed

Up to 200 customers could link to city's system


OTTAWA LAKE -- Sylvania City Council has agreed in principle to allow Whiteford Township to run a sewer line from Ottawa Lake into the city's municipal system. The panel's approval last week of a statement of intent enables Whiteford Township to apply for a grant and low-cost loan to pay for the $2.3 million project.

The city's law director, James Moan, and public service director, Kevin Aller, met with Whiteford Township representatives to discuss the terms of the deal that includes a 40-year contract that will allow up to 200 sewer customers in Ottawa Lake to connect to Sylvania's system. The waste, which will not exceed 125,000 gallons per day, will then go to the Lucas County treatment plant in Monclova Township.

"We play well together," said Walter Ruhl, Whiteford Township supervisor. "There are no arguments on the playground."

Whiteford Township can now apply for a $1.76 million grant and a low-cost loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to cover the $2.3 million cost of the expansion. "We're looking at the project and how we can get the funds," Mr. Ruhl said. "It's a lot of money for our little township."

The 3.2-mile sewer line, which will run south along Memorial Highway into Sylvania, is necessary because the township is in violation of Michigan's Clean Water Act with sewage leaking from the septic systems into groundwater and ditches. Rain then carries it south into Ten Mile Creek.

During discussion on the sewer project, council member Doug Haynam opposed giving all of Whiteford Valley Golf Club access to the sewer line. An amendment to the resolution was added stating that the golf course shall not exceed a total flow of more than 10 equivalent residential units.

"It's nothing we didn't expect," Mr. Ruhl said.

According to Sylvania officials, the project will not present an increased cost to its rate payers. Ottawa Lake customers will pay a surcharge for the service.

In other business, council voted 5-1 to approve a 1-percent pay increase for appointed officials and nonunion employees. All employees, excluding directors and superintendents, also receive a $450 lump sum bonus.

Mr. Haynam voted against the pay increase. He also voted against the 1-percent pay increase for union and nonunion employees passed by city council in a meeting in late 2011.

The city has adopted operating and capital budgets for 2012 that will result in it spending $3 million more than it will receive in revenue this year, he said.

"Over my repeated objections, council has proceeded to give pay increases to every employee of the city," he said. "In my opinion, this is not the time to be giving pay increases to the mayor, the entire administration, and all our city employees."

The pay increases will affect 27 employees. The 1-percent increase will cost the city $25,000 and the lump sum will cost $6,300.

Also, the city is eliminating one prosecutor position, and partial privatization of the department will cover a majority of the cost of the pay increases, Mr. Moan said. The city will privative the department but the reporting structure will remain the same, Mr. Moan said.

The city operated under this structure in the past and it worked well, he added.

Contact Ashley Streichert at: astreichert@theblade.com.

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