Today’s meeting of the Cuddy Drainage Board, was to determine the length (in years) of the assessment for the costs of replacing the Patterson Bridge and the dredging of the Cuddy Channel. There was just one problem – the Drain Commissioners needed an idea of the assessment amount, in order to determine the length of the loan. Since bids for the construction haven’t been sent out yet (they go out in May), the best solution was to do a “Mock Assessment” using the figures provided by Dan Fredricks, project engineer. Please keep in mind these are NOT the final numbers – simply an educated guesstimate.
For the channel dredging – not everyone will pay the same rate. Group #1 would be the people who own waterfront property on the Cuddy Channel and who will benefit the most from the dredging. Group #2 would be those with access to Island Dr – they would pay 1/2 what the first group pays. Group #3 would be anyone else who’s in the drainage district, but not with water access – they would pay 1/4 what the first group pays.
The first proposal was a 10-year assessment: Group #1 would pay approx $625.00 per year for 10 years (Group #2 would pay $300-ish, and Group #3 would pay $150.00). The Drain Commissioners have to balance the “whack” of the assessment vs. the interest paid over the years, so even though they have the ability to spread the assessment over 20 years if need be, they opted for a 15 year financing plan, which would have Group #1 paying about $420.00 per year (Group #2 about $200.00, and Group #3 about $100). Now, that being said: each property owner would be able to pay off their assessment ahead of time. If they chose to pay the full assessment within a week or so of it being issued – they will not pay any interest. If they pay it off in 5 years instead of 15, it will save them interest, just like a house mortgage. Just remember that the Drain Commissioners (Allegan and Barry) can only do ONE borrowing – and they opted for a 15 year contract. You can’t go to them and ask for a 10-yr, for example. And I should add a special “thank you!” to Allegan Drain Commissioner Denise Medemar, who voted for the 15 year financing to lessen the blow to Barry residents, even though her own county’s residents (who don’t have to pay for the full dredging – only a short bit) are being assessed on a smaller amount that could have been handled with a 10-year financing.
PAYING FOR THE BRIDGE:
I need to clarify how the bridge replacement cost is being divided, because I had it wrong in previous posts. The Allegan Road Commission has agreed to pay for 1/2 of the cost** (yay!). The other half of the bridge cost is being divided between Allegan and Barry counties. Taking a look at Barry’s quarter-share: Yankee Springs Township will contribute some money; I think the County will contribute a bit; then the balance will be assessed against the property owners within the Cuddy Drainage District. So while it’s still not fair that the Drain District folks have to pay for a bridge on a busy road like Patterson – the portion they’re buying isn’t as big as I originally thought. Thank goodness.
** One of the attendees at today’s meeting was Frank Fiala, Chairman of the Barry Road Commissioners (and a super-nice guy!), so I asked him the million-dollar question: “If the Allegan Road Commission picked up half the bridge cost, why can’t Barry pick up the other half?” Well…. the explanation goes something like this:
When 2 counties share a road, rather than each county plow or repair only half of the road, they draw lines, and each county handles a whole section of that road. The section of Patterson that crosses the Cuddy Drain, is the responsibility of the Allegan Road Commission. However, as the costs of the whole project were being divvied up, it was proposed that the bridge replacement cost be shared 50/50; and the Allegan Road Commission said “Sure! We’d be glad to pay for half!” So Frank said that technically, the Barry Road Commission shouldn’t have to pay for ANY of the bridge. But then there’s the issue of money. It seems that Allegan County residents adopted a county-wide Road Millage, after many of their roads were damaged by the floods of 2013. They’ve got some working capital. Barry County does NOT have a road millage – most of their local operating costs are covered by individual townships. Yankee Springs Township will pay a share of the bridge cost, but I doubt they could pick up half the tab.
Lastly – there’s still the “rule”, that a bridge over a Drain, is under the jurisdiction of the Drain Commissioner (unless it’s a State or Federal highway) – and the way they pay their bills is to assess those in the drainage district tied to the bridge. Granted, one might make a case that the “Cuddy Drain” is actually a nameless little spring-fed creek that has existed long before there were Drain Commissioners (I’ve seen it on a county map from 1873). So even if it was still a “creek” – the channel would still need dredging, and we’d be dealing with the MiDEQ. Trust me on this – it’s much easier to deal with the Drain Commissioners. They’ve listened to our complaints and tried to incorporate our wishes into this project. Paying for a portion of a bridge? Easy-peasy.