The city and nearby municipalities have reached a tentative agreement about their continued partnership in the waste water treatment system operated by the City of Battle Creek.
“We have all worked hard together and have come to a tentative agreement that is fair for all users of our waste water system,” said Battle Creek City Manager Rebecca Fleury.
The City of Springfield, Bedford Charter Township, Emmett Charter Township, Leroy Township, and Pennfield Charter Township own their portions of the waste water system, which all flow to Battle Creek’s waste water treatment plant.
The new, tentative agreement defines the services the City of Battle Creek will provide and terms related to those services. While some details remain to be determined, officials have agreed upon the key points.
“Today we were able to reestablish a partnership that is both equal and candid; a partnership which will allow the out-city users to participate directly in the setting of fair and equitable charges,” said Pennfield Township Supervisor Rob Behnke, who has served as the spokesman for the out-city system users.
The consensus helps bring closure to negotiations that started in 2010, when a previous 25-year agreement for services expired. The current, tentative agreement is for 15 years and provides each municipality a way to evaluate whether to continue to participate in the system.
The last two significant issues were resolved Wednesday, bringing the group to consensus.
One involves a committee comprised of representatives from all of the municipalities, which will play an important role in helping determine sewer rates and significant capital improvements to the waste water system.
The second involves the way the municipalities calculate their shares of system operation and maintenance costs. The group agreed to a formula that determines a fair percentage of the system costs for each municipality
The new agreement must be approved by each municipal board and signed versions are expected to be in place by November. The agreement and new customer sewer rates take effect Jan. 1, 2017. Rates will be determined and approved through a process in the new agreement. Some of the recently negotiated changes will be gradually phased in over the next five years.