11/12/2019- For the past several years, the City of Menominee has been collecting data on its sanitary sewer and storm sewer systems under a state SAW grant and the final report is ready for submission by the end of the year. The report shows about 30% of the sanitary sewer system will need to be repaired or replaced in the next 20 years while 34% of the storm sewers will need work in the same time frame. The good news is if the projects can be spread out over that 20 years, a relatively modest yearly increase in sewer rates of something like 2%, along with appropriate borrowing, should cover the costs of maintaining the wastewater infrastructure. Tom Traciak of Baker Tilly who did the financial analysis says the city has been doing a good job in setting aside money for sanitary sewer projects, which puts Menominee in a fair position.
“You’re in a really enviable position compared to a lot of communities. You’ve been well-managed, you’ve got a good cash balance, and you can make these three things come together: modest rate increases over time, good use of your cash on-hand, and then your capital spending- creating a balance between cash and debt.”
The SAW Grant study looked only at the sewer system. The cost of doing needed upgrades on the water system is likely to require more significant increases in the water rates. A study on the costs doing water and sewer in connection with planned road projects is expected to be completed soon.