July, 2017 Village Council Meeting Minutes and Sewer question

The Minutes for July 19 were approved without corrections at the August 16, 2017 Meeting.

As the public was unable to attend via conference call the following was not corrected.

“• Judy Phann from Onekama Township spoke on the sewer project & her belief it is in the best interest of the areas involved.”

The following was read by Judith Spohn of Concerned Citizen of Portage Lake and has been provided to Bear Lake News:

Onekama Township spearheaded this multi-municipality sewer authority beginning in April 2015. This action became necessary because the Portage Point Inn developer is in violation with the DEQ.

The violation notice is because the current septic system at the Inn is at capacity, therefore the developer CAN NOT build, install or renovate anything that requires additional waste water disposal.

The violation notice gave the developer two options:

1. Install a Sequencing Batch Reactor or

2. Connect to the Onekama Village sewage treatment facility. The second option, connecting to the Onekama Village system, was explored and is able to be done with the installation of an additional pond. The cost to the developer would be about $2 million.

Remember, this is an infrastructure cost that is the responsibility of the developer, not that of the surrounding communities.

Because the per capita income of Onekama Township is too high to qualify for grant money, a new sewer district was created. The new sewer district had to specifically include Arcadia Township and Bear Lake Village to lower the per capita income level and make grant money to build a sewer system more likely available.

NOTE, there is no guarantee that grant money will be available.

Arcadia Township has voted NO to this sewer authority because they had done a needs study that found a sewer system was not required at this time AND they want to be in control of their cost for sewage disposal rather than granting that power to a separate political entity. As well, and of equal importance, a majority of Arcadia residents agreed that they had no responsibility to pay for the Portage Point Inn developer’s sewer cost.

The Two Lake Collaborative Sewer Authority is to operate under Act 233 of the State of Michigan. Act 233 gives only ONE chance for the public to have a voice in the decision making. http://legislature.mi.gov/doc.aspx?mcl-Act-233-of-1955

That chance comes when your Township[Village] has authorized, by Resolution, signing a contract with the Two Lakes Sewer Authority for management of the project.

After the Resolution is adopted, theTownship[Village] must publish a notice of the Resolution in the newspaper (Manistee Advocate) and state that there is a right to a referendum on the contract to manage the sewer system.

The resolution will not become effective until 45 days after it is passed.

If within this 45 days period, a petition signed by not less than 10% or 15,000, whichever is less, of the registered voters residing within the limits of the municipality is filed with the Clerk requesting a referendum upon the contract, the contract shall not become effective until approved by the VOTE OF A MAJORITY of the qualified voters of the municipality voting on the question at a general or special election. (MCl 124.288).

FACTS ABOUT JOINING THE SEWER AUTHORITY:

-TheTownship[Village] must decide whether it will become an incorporator of the Sewer Authority by approving the Articles of Incorporation. THIS IS NO SMALL DEAL.

-It appears to be sold as just a means to get the USDA Rural Development Grant application done, but it is more than that.

-The Articles of Incorporation create the Sewer Authority which is a POLITICAL ENTITY with all the powers and liabilities that go along with it including the right to be sued.

-By becoming a part of the Sewer Authority, theTownship[Village] becomes part of a political entity.

-A VOTE OF A MAJORITY OF THE MUNICIPALITIES (3 out of 4) has the power to pass resolutions that will affect ALL of the municipalities.

-Strangely, ACCORDING TO THE ARTICLES OF FINCORPORATION, the purpose of the Sewer Authority includes creating the sewage disposal system, but specifically includes transporting the wastewater for treatment at the facilities of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians.

-This is concerning, because the USDA Rural Development Grant Application

REQUIRES AT LEAST 2 ALTERNATIVE TREATMENT OPTIONS TO BE EXPLORED AND PRESENTED and to date this has not been done.

-IF THE TOWNSHIP[Village] JOINS THE SEWER AUTHORITY, WILL IT BE RESTRICTED TO USING ONLY THE LITTLE RIVER BAND’S TREATMENT FACILITY EVEN IF ANOTHER OPTION PROVES MORE FEASIBLE AND PRUDENT?

-Finally, as stated “A participating local unit of government can stop participation at any time” is misleading. Once a Township[Village] joins the Sewer Authority, it cannot withdraw once the Authority has incurred debt unless it receives the CONSENT OF THE CREDITORS and on the terms, including financial terms, of the creditors.

-THE AUTHORITY WILL INCUR DEBT IMMEDIATELY IN THE FORM OF ENGINEERING COSTS AND ATTORNEY FEES.

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