First reading given to ordinance for utility disconnect proceduresPublished 8:42am Tuesday, September 29, 2009
By JOHN EBY
Dowagiac Daily News
As a member of the Michigan Municipal Electrical Association (MMEA), the City of Dowagiac relies on MMEA for recommendations on policies that should be implemented statewide.
Over the past six months, a subcommittee of members of the MMEA have met to review disconnect procedures at utilities throughout the state in an attempt to provide a uniform policy for implementation statewide.
“This has become an important matter since the Michigan Public Service Commission is looking more closely at municipal disconnect rules in light of a tragic death that occurred in Bay City last year,” City Manager Kevin Anderson stated Monday night.
Two weeks ago the MMEA released its recommended policies for disconnects and asked all of its 40 members to consider adopting these rules by November.
Dowagiac staff reviewed these rules and found they are quite similar to the city’s current ordinance regarding disconnects.
Additionally, the state Legislature is reviewing regulations that could become effective later this year.
Council, which gave first reading to such an ordinance, will be asked at its next meeting Oct. 12 to consider an ordinance that repeals Dowagiac’s current disconnect regulations and authorizes new regulations to be adopted by resolution.
Anderson said this method will allow the city administration to more quickly comply if the state requires different regulations to take effect prior to winter.
Howard Hall commented to the council, “Presently, we have two extensions in the summer and two during the winter months. Years ago, that was a pretty big battle and the economy was pretty good. Now, we’re in a recession … the economy’s horrible. You’re taking one of the payment extensions away when you deemed it necessary to have four when the economy was good. Now that the economy is worse and we’ve lost all these jobs in Dowagiac and surrounding areas, you’re taking away one of the payment extensions?”
Addressing his First Ward representatives, Hall said, “Darron (Murray) and Lori (Hunt), especially for the lower-income people who live in First Ward, that could be devastating, that extra payment extension during the summer or winter or however you divide the three up. I ask that you guys really rethink this a little bit.”
Anderson said what the MMEA offered are “not required standards, but recommended standards. The council has the ability to make whatever policies it wants. The recommendation of that policy body is for fewer extensions.”
Rather than three for 21 days, or 63 days total, Hall suggested four for 10 days, or 40 days total. “You’re giving less time, but an extra extension. It benefits the city as well to have that additional payment extension because you charge extra fees for it. The residents have additional time to make that payment and the city will make some extra money off it.”
City Council Monday night also approved conducting trick-or-treat in Dowagiac on Halloween – Saturday, Oct. 31, from 6 to 7 p.m.
Council also approved the Optimist Club’s request to have its annual Halloween parade on Saturday, Oct. 31.