DETROIT (WWJ) – Talks to create a Regional Water Authority in Southeast Michigan are over for now.
A bankruptcy court filing from the city says negotiations have run their course.
Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr has been unsuccessful in trying to get Oakland and Macomb County leaders to go along with his plans for an alliance and will now look to privatize the system — which has more than four million customers throughout southeastern Michigan.
Oakland County Chief Deputy County Executive Gerald Poisson said, in a statement, the city hasn’t negotiated in good faith and has held back key documents.
However, the county remains open to the possibility of forming a regional water and sewer authority, under certain conditions.
“… Any resolution must protect all ratepayers; keep water and sewer revenues in the water and sewer system to pay for critical upkeep and rehabilitation; and cannot merely be a vehicle to divert funds from water and sewer customers to Detroit’s general fund so the city can meet its other obligations,” said Poisson.
“Any resolution must also protect responsible ratepayers from having to unfairly foot the bill for the increasing numbers of customers who don’t pay and provide for meaningful, regional governance. Such a solution can only be found, however, after the city provides open access to all information the counties need for analysis and will likely require the assistance and participation of the State of Michigan and the federal government,” he said.
Last month, Orr said he’d begun looking into finding a private buyer for the bankrupt city’s water department. Orr said, while he would have preferred to form a regional authority, he has a duty to look into all opportunities — also including possibly leasing the department. [More on this HERE].
This week, Orr’s spokesman Bill Nowling told the Detroit Free Press there’s still a chance negotiations with Wayne, Oakland and Macomb could be restarted.