KALAMAZOO COUNTY, MI — Property owners near a pair of Kalamazoo County lakes will have to pay thousands of dollars to help fix a flooding problem in Texas Township.
Property owners in the Crooked and Eagle Lakes special assessment district in Texas Township will pay between $2,221 and $8,885 each, as approved by the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, June 20. The majority of the property owners will pay the higher figure, per the county agenda.
The county agreed to pay $636,000 — about 9% — while Texas Township is paying $530,000. But property owners are on the hook for most of the $7 million project.
The $7 million is paying for a pumping system with two pump stations and filtration to regulate water levels.
Property owners were notified by mail of the legal process happening to set levels and special districts, officials said.
The project is needed due to heavy flooding, which has caused property damage and other issues due to rising water levels. In 2019, 15 households were displaced by the flooding.
A court order has mandated the county bring down lake levels and set up the boundaries for the special assessment district.
Despite only paying for a small portion of the project, some county commissioners were displeased with contributing the $636,000. Chair John Taylor said people in more impoverished parts of the county shouldn’t have to pay for a project benefiting owners of million-dollar properties.
“What if nothing was done?” Commissioner Dale DeLeeuw said, asking if action is required by the state.
Once a county initiates a process to set a lake level, the county has a responsibility to maintain the set levels, said Attorney Kyle A. O’Meara, counsel for the drain commissioner’s office.
“Essentially, you can’t do nothing,” O’Meara said, because it would be a violation of a court order and the state statute.
Resident Gary Steinbach argued the community should share the costs, and took issue with some of the wordings used by Taylor.
“We pay taxes, we pay a lot of taxes,” Steinbach said. He lives at 184 W. Crooked Lake Dr., a property among 541 that would be assessed the tax. Of those, 196 properties are around Crooked Lake, and 435 are around Eagle Lake.
“I don’t agree with how you are spending (other) money, but I still pay my taxes,” Steinbach said.
The county also approved $5.3 million in bonds to be issued to pay for the project, which will be repaid by the special assessment funds paid by property owners.
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