MTA Local Chapter Meeting – Muskegon County Drain Commissioner

Hello everyone-

I plan on attending on the 29th– and welcome dialog on some of the stuff flying around regarding the Drain Commissioner’s office– including:

• The County Board’s consideration to not pledge full faith and credit for bonds to fund the Pierson and Kuis Drain projects. Not pledging FF&C does not prevent my office from continuing a project but it will likely shorten terms and increase interest rates if we have to finance by other means. This only costs property owners more by making everyone’s annual payments higher (including townships). Unfortunately, if the Board does not pledge full faith and credit, and has a consistent stance in the future, it will have a harder financial impact for those in the Black Creek Consolidated Drain, the Ribe Drain, perhaps the Holland Drain, and any other large projects in the future. We are looking to be on the Board’s January 23rd agenda for the Pierson and Kuis decisions.

• Despite comments suggesting this may be a means of getting the county out of their court-sustained assessments, it does not.

• The Kuis underdrain project spectacle: all of the homes in the project area were built at or below the seasonal high groundwater table. Most are also below what was required in the Master Deed—primarily because the road was built 1.5 feet too low and basement elevations were, in part, taken from the road. The area has septic systems and Public Health records reflected groundwater at an average of 3 feet from the ground’s surface. Most people say they don’t need the project, but science suggests otherwise. They also don’t want the assessment but then; how many people have cheered public sewer, street, and water assessments?

• I view citizen actions for Kuis project #2 as an “end-run” attempt on due process. There is an appeal process under the law, but the citizen(s) pushing on my office, dropped the appeal and took the cause to TV17, the Township Board, and most recently, the County Board to “stop the project” –costing everyone in the project area more money. If the original appeal process was honored, it would not have cost property owners any additional money.

• Despite political shenanigans, Facebook frenzies, and loads of misinformation, I do not intend to walk away from the time and financial investments already made on any existing project, nor will I cower from my duties and legitimate citizen petitions. Please remember that I do not make decisions in a vacuum. I have experienced attorneys, engineers, excavators, and environmental consultants who do work all over the state that bring their expertise to the table, which adds to my training and experience. Everything is done according to the law and with consideration of current and future citizens.

• We are pursuing partnerships that bring funding to drain projects. We have secured hundreds of thousands in support already. Every political distraction that we have to address takes time away from this endeavor. I also worry that grant funders may decide to invest in areas that have better reputations regarding inter-governmental and inter-departmental teamwork.

• We have completed several drain projects that many citizens have complained about (no one wanted an assessment and many questioned the need) but most are still supportive of the completed work (e.g., Kent, Laurene Taylor, Stewart, Wooley) to name a few. We even get calls complimenting our work!

OK—I’m off the soapbox. 😀 Hope to see you on the 29th.