ISHPEMING — Some big steps were made at Monday’s Ishpeming City Council meeting regarding the city’s water improvement project.

After approving the engineering plan for the project, the council considered three options for raising water rates by the desired 35 percent needed to satisfy requirements for both USDA Rural Development loans and the city’s Deficit Elimination Plan.

Ultimately, the option decided upon will result in a rate increase of about $10 for residents who use 2,500 gallons or less per month. It’s a different story for larger customers — a customer using 300,000 gallons a month would see an increase of over $1,000 on their bill.

“The options were to distribute the costs more onto the minimum users and less onto the bigger users, and the council chose the option that does the least of that,” said City Manager Mark Slown. “In other words, the bigger customers are going to be paying their full share and not distributing it all to the small customers.”

Slown said further action will have to be taken by the council to actually set the rates. He expects that to happen around the end of the year. Slown also expects a revised ordinance that allows the rate structure to be set annually in the city’s fee schedule to go before the council in the next month or two.