HOUGHTON - The Portage Township Board of Trustees discussed a few issues currently facing it during a special meeting Friday at the Michigan Technological University Lakeshore Center building.
One of the items discussed by the board was the status of a consent agreement between the board and the owners of Valley View Quarry, Thomas J. Moyle Jr. Inc., concerning the operation of the quarry on Green Acres Road.
In open session, Supervisor Bruce Petersen said the board needed to go into closed session to go over the consent agreement with their attorney, Nicholas Daavettila.
Daily Mining Gazette/Kurt Hauglie
The Portage Township Board of Trustees conducted a special meeting Friday at the Michigan Technological University Lakeshore Center building in Houghton to discuss a few issues facing it.
After a nearly two-hour closed session, the board returned to discuss the issue in open session. Trustee John Ollila said since the document has to go back to the attorneys for the parties to be finalized, a public hearing about the consent agreement should be scheduled for the week of June 18.
Trustee Mark Jalkanen said there was no need for a public hearing at this point, because most of the details have been worked out, so it could be voted on at the board's regular meeting June 18.
"There's not going to be much to read," he said.
Clerk Sandra Luoma said there's no reason to set a date for a public hearing before the attorneys are finished with it. As soon as the document is sent to the board, then a special meeting can be called.
Special meetings require at least 18 hours notice ahead of time.
Ollila said since the situation with the quarry has been going on for more than a year, many residents of the township have interest in what the resolution will be.
"It would be prudent to give the public good notice," he said.
Jalkanen said the quarry owners want to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
"It's in their interest to have it done," he said.
Board members voted unanimously to set a special meeting to vote on the consent agreement as soon as the final details are worked out by the attorneys.
Board members also discussed a claim by apartment owner Mark Kemppainen for six years he's been getting double billed for water at duplexes he owns.
Petersen said Kemppainen claims to have been double billed in the amount of $27,027, but Petersen said township records show an amount of $23,043.
Kemppainen has one meter for his duplexes, Petersen said, but he's been charged for two base water fees.
Petersen said if the problem has existed since 2006, Kemppainen should have said something sooner.
"He has the responsibility of knowing what's on the bill," he said.
Kemppainen is asking for 5 percent interest on what he has been paying, but Petersen said the township shouldn't have to pay that.
"I don't think we should be penalized that charge," he said.
Petersen suggested offering Kemppainen 85 percent of the spreadsheet amount, or $2,000 of credit for future water usage.
Jalkanen asked why Petersen chose 85 percent of the spreadsheet amount, and Petersen said it was to avoid more litigation.
"I think he has some validity to his claim," he said. "It was just a random number."
Petersen said the township water and sewer committee suggested offering Kemppainen credit.
Luoma said she doesn't understand why it took six years for Kemppainen to bring the issue to the board.
"I think this should have legal limitations," she said. "You can't go back six years."
Daavettila, who was in the audience, said there is a six-year statute of limitations on the original contract with the township.
Kemppainen, who also was in the audience, said he's asking for 5 percent interest because that's what it cost him to pay the overcharges.
"Should the customer have to settle for 85 percent of his out of pocket expense?" he asked. "Money has an expense to it and I've incurred it."
Kemppainen said he's paid all the water bills himself.
Jalkanen said Kemppainen should be compensated for the overcharge.
"I do think you should get a hundred percent of what you paid," he said.
Kemppainen said he's a good water customer.
"I turn my water bills around in a week," he said.
The board agreed to have Kemppainen and Treasurer Carol Little go over Kemppainen's water bills and other documents then discuss the issue again June 18.