Crockery residents stuck with $102K bill

Crockery Township officials are beginning to weigh their options for the cost of operating a sewage treatment plant built for the Hathaway Lakes subdivision.
Alex Doty
Aug 24, 2013


“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.




Eastbrook homes never informed us a new homeowner of this arrangement that they had made. When we received our first water bill we were shocked. In the last 5 years our bills have been within $5-10 of our neighbors like they just picked a number instead of actual numbers. This summer our bill increased by $100. When talking to Crockery they said that they have been cutting us a deal and now we have to pay the price. Eastbrook potential homeowners should be for-warned that the water/sewer bills are extremely high and Eastbrook who made the deal does not feel responsible.


It sounds like more then one agency dropped the ball, but maybe a class action lawsuit might wake someone up? So tired of seeing things like this happen in government today, where is fiscal responsibility and common sense, no more blaming the other guy, or gee blaming the economy for everything. Good luck Eastbrook home owners and Crockery Township taxpayers.


How ironic that Mr. Stille thinks he should not have to absorb this debt of $102k, while he thought it was perfectly acceptable for Ian Lawton and the new Board of Trustees at C3 Exchange to absorb the $1.2m debt that he and his bloated old cronies left behind after decades of mismanagement.


We own a small business in Crockery Township. We have a septic system. We use $25 worth of water every quarter, yet our bill is $122. We pay $97 in fees just to use that small amount of water.


Maybe they would have figured this out before hand had they not voted out the library that used to be in Crockery Township. If they are going to be stuck with bills like this, they need to be more involved and more knowledgeable of township events/business especially as small as Crockery Township is. Kinda like running the Big 3, you need to have a rainy day fund in case something like this happens. Maybe its time for a change in Management of the township?


Unfortunately, in Crockery Township dinosaurs are not extinct.


Rather, they get re-elected.


Why would anyone think that Crockery Township should absorb the extra cost of operating a sewage treatment plant that was built just for Hathaway Lakes subdivision. That needs to be the responsibility of the builders initially and the homeowners when all is complete. I live in Crockery Township and do not want my water bill or taxes to go up when I don't even have use of the system.


In order to hear the other side of the story, you have to be subscribed to the Tribune. Eastbrook Homes CEO Mick McGraw states in the article that originally plans were to build the plant himself and have it privately owned, but the township and county wanted to own it. He also said that if the county and township want to give it to them, they could because "we've paid for it at this time". The water and sewer bills have been totally outrageous in Hathaway Lakes. It's just an example of the township and county being greedy, and now that it's not going as planned, they figure they should make the citizens pay for their greediness.


You are absolutely right DKS523! I remember this arrangement years ago and the township wanted to retain ownership seemingly to make money for the township from it. Perhaps the Tribune has some archive information on this. When I first heard about it the concern from my point of view was that it would surprise me if they could sell that many lots in the development to pay for it anyway.

In my 25 years living in Crockery Township I've seen so many development proposals shot down that would have likely been very successful when the housing market was still climbing. Funny how they finally accepted a major development when the market started to show some troubling situations and then finally collapsed. Sadly, Crockery Township has never been blessed with financially wise forward thinkers on the board but rather wanted to keep the township pinching for funds in a more reactionary approach.

The fire department even had many signs of financial trouble back then with the long time fire chief apparently controlling the largest part of the township budget. Some good may have come from it but long term damage affects all tax payers when there isn't a good progressive community financial plan in place.

Coopersville at one time had conducted a 25 year plan for how the community should develop their tax base which included feedback from all sections of government and a study conducted by MSU that resulted in such great opportunities like a long run with the Delphi plant and supporting industry benefiting everyone with sustainability. The key is PROACTIVE!

Now we must pay the bills for those poor reactionary oversights and I hope the board has learned from this and other embarrassing financial woes in the past several decades.


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