You are here: Government > Drain Commissioner > Lake Projects FAQ
Contact Information:
  • PO Box 427
  • Centreville MI, 49032

  • Drain Commissioner's Office
  • St. Joseph County Annex II
  • 612 E. Main St.
  • Centreville MI, 49032
  • Please call to make an Appointment
  • Phone: (269) 467-5600
  • Fax: (269) 467-5628

Lake Projects FAQ

Q: Why does a special assessment district need to be established?

A: A special assessment district is established pursuant to Part 307 of the NREPA to pay for any maintenance or improvements that are undertaken to maintain the lake level, including the inspections.

Q: How much will this cost me?

A: The specific costs per property are not known. However, after the judge establishes the boundaries of the special assessment district the Drain Commissioner will prepare a computation of cost and hold a public meeting where property owners can review their apportionment.

Q: Who requires the Drain Commissioner to perform the dam inspections?

A: Part 307, Inland Lake Levels, and Part 315, Dam Safety, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended (Part 315), requires that dam inspections are performed every three years, and that inspection reports are sent to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Dam safety Program.

Q: What is the difference between a weed control special assessment and lake level special assessment?

A: A weed control assessment is assessed through the township. Usually the township assessor files the assessment and it is performed through the township or by a lake improvement board formed under Part 309 of the NREPA. A lake level special assessment is filed by the Drain Commissioner (Part 307) for all costs relating to the maintenance or improvement of the lake level and the costs of building and maintaining the lake level control structure.

Q: What happens after the judge establishes the boundaries of the special assessment district?

A: The Drain Commissioner will prepare a computation of cost for the special assessment district which can include costs for a preliminary study (only needed if putting in a new structure), surveys, preparations of assessment rolls, acquiring land and other property, locating, constructing, operating, repairing, and maintaining the control structure, legal fees, court costs, interest on bonds or other financing and a contingency of up to 15% if the Drain Commissioner finds it necessary.

The Drain Commissioner will then notice each property owner in the special assessment district of the date and time of the public meeting where they can review their assessment.

During or after the public meeting the Drain Commissioner may approve or revise the cost of the project and the special assessment roll.

MCL 324.30714 (3) and (4) requires that the County Board of Commissioners by resolution approve both the cost of the project and the special assessment roll.

Pursuant to MCL 324.30714, the special assessment roll will then be conclusive and final unless appealed to a court of competent jurisdiction within 15 days after approval by the County Board of Commissioners.

MCL 324.30715 provides that the special assessments shall be spread upon the county tax roll and shall be subject to the same interest and penalty charges and shall be collected in the same manner as county taxes.

Q: How many years will the special assessment be spread?

A: Typically if the water control structure is existing the assessment will be spread over one or two years.

If a new water control structure is required to be constructed the assessment can be spread up to a 10 year period.

Q: Why does a special assessment district need to be established?

A: In the past the County’s general fund has been paying for the maintenance and improvements to the lake level including dam inspections. Part 307 specifically allows a County Board of Commissioners to establish a lake level special assessment district. A majority of established lake levels have special assessment districts. It is the goal of the Drain Commissioner to establish special assessment districts for all established lake levels so that all lakes in St. Joseph County receive equal treatment.