County, Detroit leaders closer to regional water system?

Water rates go up 4 percent overall; is regional water authority on horizon?

DETROIT – The Detroit Water Board unanimously approved the budget on Tuesday that will raise overall water rates 4 percent.

The actual water rates for each Metro Detroit community will be determined later this week and voted on later this month.

The same Board met behind closed doors Tuesday morning with Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr's legal team. William Wolfson hastily called the meeting Friday to presumably discuss an imminent settlement. However, he isn't talking now.

"I have no comment. We met in closed session to discuss the status and proceedings," he said.

Orr has proposed a regional water plan in which suburbs get greater control and would lease services at more than $200 million a year for 40 years. That plan was dead on arrival when presented to leaders in Oakland and Macomb counties.

They have been negotiating since. There was a mediation session involving the water proposal on Tuesday. A source tells Local 4 this was a big one but offered no further details.

Orr didn't stop to take questions at Tuesday afternoon's Financial Advisory Board meeting.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel predict the plan could double -- even triple -- water rates. That's something the chairman of the Water Board, John Fausone, denies.

"We'll take some action today that indicates where the rates are likely to be in the future, for the next and certainly they don't approach the increases that were suggested," said Fausone.