LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TAKE ACTION ON FORMING SEWER AUTHORITY
MANISTEE COUNTY – The governing bodies of four Manistee County local units of government have unanimously passed resolutions to adopt the Articles of Organization to form the Three Lakes Collaborative Sewer Authority. The goal: to submit one financing application through the Authority to the U. S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development to determine the financial viability of a shared sewer system that would connect with the wastewater treatment facility owned and operated by the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians.

A fifth local unit of government, Arcadia Township, had a deadlocked vote of 2:2 on adopting the Articles to form the Authority which by law meant the adoption was not approved. A public information meeting will be held at Arcadia’s Pleasant Valley Community Center on May 31 at 7 p.m. at the request of Township officials to ensure community members understand the purpose of the project. Participants at the public information meeting will include Brian Sousa from the firm Wade Trim, attorney Eric Williams who is assisting with forming the sewer authority, representation from the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and others from surrounding communities that are involved with the project.

“The goal of this meeting will be to share facts and answer questions,” said Township Supervisor Janice McCraner. “It will be an opportunity for all interests to clearly understand the goals of the initiative, what would be included in a financing application, the information that would be received in the response from USDA Rural Development and the opportunities for communities to decide whether they want to proceed. We want to make sure that the proposal is fully understood and vetted by the community.”

“Participating communities and governing bodies need to understand what this process is and is not about,” said Judy Girven, Pleasanton Township Treasurer. “For us, it is an opportunity to definitively understand the costs of a sewer system that would help protect Bear Lake, if it is affordable and if our community wants to proceed with a sewer construction project. We feel this collaborative approach may offer advantages in terms of cost and shared services but we cannot make a decision until we understand just what this would cost the Township and the residents and businesses who would be in a sewer district.”

“The governmental units that form the sewer authority need to understand that the application to USDA Rural Development takes months to complete and involves a lot of data and scenarios to receive a proposal from USDA to finance the sewer through a combination of grants and loans,” said Brian Sousa of the firm Wade Trim. “It is very important, for example, for people to understand that the application must present three options for providing the communities with a municipal sewer and wastewater treatment. For example, in addition to the Little River Band treatment plant, we will also likely include an independent treatment system as an option.”

“We can’t make informed decisions on opportunities until we know what the opportunities are about,” said Jeff Harthun, Supervisor of Bear Lake Township. “This may be the only chance for our Township to understand the pros and cons of a municipal sewer developed through a collaboration of local governments. Until we form the Authority, submit the financing application as a single entity and receive a response, we have no idea if this is a viable opportunity for our Township.”

Alliance for Economic Success, 395 Third Street, Manistee, MI 49660

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