134 W. Michigan Ave


Chamber Responds to City Council's Unpublicized Vote

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September 09, 2019
The State of Michigan is requiring municipalities to replace all lead service lines.  The anticipated expense for this project in Jackson is $234 million.  The Chamber has been proactively working towards a multi-approach solution for this unfunded state mandate. 
  1. Encourage state to add flexibility to the law:  Representative Alexander has helped arrange a meeting with state officials to discuss the mandate and how Jackson can provide safe, high quality water at a reasonable cost. 
  2. Research funding mechanisms that are fair and balanced:  City Manager Pat Burtch has met with the largest water users to brainstorm a variety of solutions. 
Through all of this, the Chamber and businesses were repeatedly told that the earliest this issue would come to vote would be September 17th.
However, on September 3, 2019, Mayor Derek Dobies made a motion to add this item to the agenda and the Council unanimously agreed.  The Jackson City Council then voted to remove the water rate tiers (volume discounts), which impacts 319 businesses on the City’s water system.  Mayor Dobies and five other Councilmembers voted in favor, with only Councilmember Pappin voting no. 
To say that the business community was blind-sided and shocked is an understatement.  We were working collaboratively to find a solution for clean, safe water. For the Council to vote on this issue with NO WARNING to the public is the opposite of transparency.
Mayor Dobies and other Councilmembers have stated that people won’t be impacted by this change – only businesses.  The 319 businesses who will pay a combined increase of $1,639,944 per year represent over 5,000 employees.  Those employees will be impacted.  Costs of goods and services will go up to all consumers.  Businesses will cut expenses in other areas, potentially resulting in fewer jobs or property taxes.
The Chamber is continuing its discussions with the state about this mandate and with the City about future rate increases.  We remain disappointed that Council decided to vote without a single notice to the public or voice of the people.
Mindy Bradish-Orta, President
(517) 782-8221