“According to projections, it should be finished by now,” Township Supervisor Leon Stille said of the housing development. “We are way behind the budget used for projections (for the sewer plant).”
According to a report released by the Ottawa County Road Commission, operation and maintenance costs for the sewer plant have exceeded funding sources. This shortfall must in turn come out of the township’s General Fund, Stille said.
“That is the area that keeps us awake at night,” Stille said. “That does not generate enough operating charges to pay the cost of the service contract with the Ottawa County Road Commission to operate the plant.”
According to Township Treasurer Judy VanBemmelen, the township has transferred a total of $102,300 to the sewer fund since 2006 from the township’s General Fund.
“We haven’t done it on a regular basis,” she said.
The plant's construction began in 2005, and it was designed for 75,000 gallons of water per day.
Funding for the plant design and construction came from $300,000 provided by the developer and a $1.275 million bond issue by the county. Additionally, developers are committed to pay $2,000 for each of the 510 lots toward the sewer plant bond.
Instead of working out like originally planned, the Crockery Township Clean Water Plant has been a victim of the economic downturn. When it was ready to receive its first gallon of wastewater in January 2006, the economy and real estate market was in a decline. With the economy and real estate market hitting a stumbling block, only a fraction of the homes in Hathaway Lakes have been built that were originally proposed.
The Ottawa County Road Commission report indicates the sewer plant is currently operating at only about 21 percent capacity. Since development has not met original projections, additional funding must be found for operations and maintenance, thus the requirement for fund balance transfers.
“We’ve been trying to figure out how to get out of this hole,” Stille said. “We can’t do nothing and absorb this kind of debt.”
To read more of this story, see Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.