Brighton Township officials aren’t planning to increase sewer system rates for the coming year, assuming a proposed settlement in a lawsuit against the municipality goes according to plan.

At a budget work session last week, Township Manager Brian Vick explained to the Board of Trustees that a number of assumptions have been used to create a model that suggest a rate hike may not be needed for user and debt service charges. The number of Residential Equivalent Units, or REUS, that have been purchased historically, the rate, return of investment and attorney costs were all factored into the equation.

Using the model, the township’s Utilities Committee has recommended the user charge remain at $106 and the debt service charge at $80.50, both per REU per quarter, for the 2018/2019 fiscal year. While maintaining the status quo rates was recommended and generally accepted based on the board’s discussion, it’s not official. The decision likely won’t be made until officials know the outcome of a lawsuit that was filed by a group of original sewer system users who allege the township has overcharged them in assessment fees for years.

A proposed settlement was reached at the end of January and Vick says if it goes accordingly, a rate increase wouldn’t be necessary. There’s no guarantee that the settlement will move forward as planned, especially as some of the residents represented in the lawsuit aren’t entirely on board with the proposal. A hearing in April will bring the settlement before a judge.

If the settlement derails, Vick says an increase may be needed as legal defense funds have been charged to the sewer operations and maintenance fund, sucking up a good chunk of its contents. (DK)