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Township, village grapple with detachment as November vote looms



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September 26, 2012 - Goodrich- Just what the costs of the detachment will be will have to wait until after the vote in November.

On Sept. 20 a special meeting to establish value on village assets prior to the detachment vote in November was called for the village and Atlas Township by John O'Brien, director of the water and waste services division of the drain commissioner's office.

The deliberation was necessary to hammer out some ideas for Atlas Township and village residents regarding costs and ramifications if the detachment is successful in November. However, the information from the meeting would not be binding since the election must occur prior to any legal contracts between any entities.

The vote comes after village resident Patricia Wartella filed signed petitions in April to the Genesee County Clerk for the detachment of 87 parcels of property within the village to Atlas Township. The areas include properties on Shuman Drive and in Mill Pointe Shores and Fairview Hills subdivisions. The Genesee County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to put the partial detachment of the village to the township on the Nov. 8 ballot. Residents of Goodrich, the township, and the proposed detached areas will vote—a simple majority is needed. Representing the village at the meeting were Village Administrator Jakki Sidge, Village Councilman Mark Baldwin, and village resident Norm Bass.

Attorney David Lattie also attended the meeting as a representative of Atlas Township.

"One of the questions that came up was regarding compensations for the sewer lines in the village," said Lattie. "There were no costs for the village for those (sewer) lines or bonding to pay for those lines. Those residents that may detach already paid tap-in fees when they moved in their house. There would be no change in service except to pay the sewer bill to the township rather than the village.There would be seemingly no economic obligations if the sewers are transferred. Furthermore, there's no debt or bonds to pay. The funding for those lines were paid for by the developer when the subdivision was built then turned over to the village. I understand others may not share that opinion."

"However, until the vote this November all we can do is speculate—the township will issue an opinion regarding the detachment soon," he said. "The sewer and roads are an issue with the detachment; however, the township and village already share a lot of services, including fire and police. One thing we want to avoid is wild speculation regarding the detachment."

Norm Bass, who represented the village at the meeting, did not see it that way.

"It's going to cost those who detach a lot more than what they'll save in taxes," said Bass. "We are going to come up with an estimated replacement cost for the sewers in the easement area for those properties in the detached area. The cost should be the replacement value for those sewers at the time of the detachment. While it may be a complicated formula, the village is going to hang their hat on those values and the township is going to have to decide how the village is going to be compensated for those assets. Those in the detached area moved into the village and they knew there were extra costs to live there above the township. Now they are trying to run from it—there is a financial obligation that comes along. We are going to be fair to the voters. I'm not trying to scare people, just be realistic."

Bass said the a dollar amount would be discussed at a special meeting on Sept. 27.

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