News Bite

Midland, Gladwin approve 30-year tax to restore lakes after 2020 flood

Taxpayers in two Michigan counties will pay for a failure of government through the 2050s

Midland and Gladwin Counties approved on Tuesday a special tax to rebuild the failed Edenville and Sanford dams. Commissioners from the two counties, meeting in a joint session, voted unanimously to create a tax district made up of homes in the lake area impacted by the 2020 dam failure and subsequent flood. The tax is expected to raise $60 million over 30 years.

Lake properties in the Special Assessment District in Sanford, Smallwood, Edenville, and Secord will see a $150 to $500 increase in their property taxes, starting with this winter’s bill.

Prior to the meeting, property owners not in the special assessment district were concerned they would be on the hook for the new tax, according to the Four Lakes Task Force, a nonprofit that administers the region of Secord, Smallwood, Wixom and Sanford Lakes. Tuesday’s vote specified only owners in the special district will see an increase.

Residents still showed up to voice their opposition, according to MLive. There were complaints of nepotism, misspending on task force vehicles, and financial inefficiencies in operations and dam repairs. One resident also complained that two of the four dams will be brand new, while the other two dams will only receive repairs.

Before the dams failure, the state refused to allow Boyce Hydro, owner of the dams, to lower water levels because doing so might endanger freshwater mussels. Heavy rain caused water levels to rise, resulting in the failure of two dams. The company did not properly maintain the dams, says Jason Hayes, director of environmental policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

The flood prompted the evacuation of 10,000 resents and destroyed or damaged more than 2,500 buildings. Sanford Lake, a large artificial body along the course of the Tittabawassee River, emptied out.

The total price tag of the fix: $250 million. State taxpayers will be footing $200 million of the bill. There are currently 25 civil lawsuits against the state.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.