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Zeba’s water, sewer rates raised

BARAGA – Keweenaw Bay Indian Community raised Zeba’s water and sewer rates by a few dollars, to keep the system operating without losing money.

Effective January 2017, the village’s customers will pay flat monthly rates of $41 for sewer and $35 for water, the KBIC Tribal Council decided last week. The rates are up from $38 and $30, respectively. In addition, the shutoff fee will be increased from $10 to $30.

“The increase just covers the average operational cost of running the system,” said Arlan Friisvall, KBIC maintenance director. “It’s been a few years since the last increase. I went back the last five years to get the numbers. The increased cost over the last couple of years are to cover the current projects that are underway or coming up.”

He said in addition to a study and smoke test for the sewer system, the bent water intake pipe was fixed, and some system and controls are being upgraded.

“Grants cover most of the costs, but there is a match that the tribe has to pitch in to get the grant,” Friisvall said.

Tribal attorney Danielle Webb recommended the council increase fees to adequately cover operational and maintenance expenses, in keeping with a tribal ordinance.

“There’s a need to increase the fees because the system should be in the black,” Webb said. “We need more revenue coming in to offset those expenses.”

The Zeba system serves an average of 100 homes, with 115 connections, Friisvall said.

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