You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Tue, Aug 7, 2012 : 9:49 p.m.

Sylvan Township millage passes by 7 votes to pay water and sewer debt

By Amy Biolchini

In a tight vote with record turnout, Sylvan Township residents passed a millage to pay back the money the township owes on water and sewer improvements for a development that never came through.

In a 480-473 vote with 37 percent of registered voter turnout, a 4.4-mill, 20-year tax passed in Tuesday’s primary election.

The tax will cost an additional $440 per year in taxes for a house with a taxable value of $100,000.

Township residents currently pay less than 1 mill in operational taxes.

The township is in debt for more than $13 million: $5 million for a water system, $7.5 million for a sewer system and $1.2 million for unpaid taxes the township owes to Washtenaw County.

In May the county picked up the township’s loan payments after it defaulted.

County officials put off serving the Sylvan Township board with a lawsuit for the payment owed to see if voters would approve a millage to pay off the difference. Had voters turned down the millage -- as they did previously -- the county would have had to pursue legal action against the township.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 4:47 p.m.

Maybe it's not too late to undo the deal with the County.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 1:07 a.m.

Do you really think a judge would impose a tax so large in a short term that it would cause hardship and drive people from their homes???? They are elected officials and can be voted out of office. There was a fair chance that some responsibility for this would fall on the county as it should and the burden of this folly spread out as it should be. If a judgment went against the township in full, the worst case outcome for the residents would have been very similar to the millage. Voting for this millage just assured that the residents who didn't want this water and sewer plant will pay the maximum amount.

Mike Montpetit

Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 5 p.m.

A step in the right direction by getting rid of Grau and Koch. Good luck, Sylvan!!


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 5:14 p.m.

It would be nice if Grau and Koch were held accountable. No one is ever held accountable in Chelsea.


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 4:37 a.m.

Please, please, please, after all this time (!!), get your facts straight. "to pay back the money the township owes on water and sewer improvements for a development that never came through." Absolutely not. The developments that were specially assessed had to pay their assessments whether or not house #1 ever got built. Because the township misrepresented the number of Residential Equivalent Units (REUs) to the county and hence the bondholders and over assessed the land, and because it was charging assessments for the water district before it was legally entitled to do so, it was sued, lost, and the correct number of REUs was placed on the land. In addition, all early water payments were converted to principal, with the result that the developers' liability is essentially paid off, leaving the taxpayers holding the bag. Not quite the story you present, eh? Perhaps if there had been honest and forthright reporting on this story, the outcome might have been different. Informed voters tend to make better decisions. Witness the results in the GOP primary in Sylvan.

Alex Slocum

Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 3:33 a.m.

I was one of the "sheep" that voted yes on this. Those who seek to take it back to court refuse to acknowledge that A) we are not getting out of this debt. and B) the judge has not been kind to us in any of the cases. The county shares a lot of the blame-- but they are also in the driver's seat. If you feel like leading an effort and tiger hunting against the county I'm sure a lot of us would support you, but it's wrong to to deny reality and bash us until that happens. I'm not prepared to gamble on a legal win. I was one of the people ranting and shaking my finger at the old board for weeks and months. They were a great scapegoat, but it lets most everyone else off the hook. I voted yes this time because my family is in danger of losing our family homestead, and it has become blatantly obvious the courts will probably NOT give us a better deal. Any real evidence to the contrary would be great. Put yourself in the shoes of people who are financially vulnerable in this township--and also make sure you understand what outcome is really likely based on prior decisions of the judge and court.


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 12:27 p.m.

I couldn't have said any better! I was another "sheep" that voted yes this time and last time. The downside to this is that the housing market will go down in this area because the taxes will be too high to pay for new home owners.


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 2:40 a.m.

What a bunch of sheep who voted yes to accept this. What is it with people in Washtenaw County, they just love to vote to pay higher taxes everytime it comes up on a ballot. Had this gone to court, there a very high probability the county would have been held responsible to pay for some of this. The biggest shame is that we can't sue the individuals who caused this. At least 3 of the bums got thrown out of office today.


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 2:14 p.m.

It's unfortunate that this happened and a very hard lesson to learn about paying attention to elected officials and their decisions.


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 3:07 a.m.

So owning up and actually paying for your utilities is some form of irresponsible liberalism. I see....

Rod Johnson

Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 2:33 a.m.



Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 2:28 a.m.

A sad example of residents paying through the nose for poor, poor decisions by people in charge. Like the Ypsi Water Street debacle. Can happen anywhere, Ann Arbor (cough train station cough art)