Sterling Heights loses court battle over Fraser sinkhole 'but hasn't lost the war'

- The city of Sterling Heights says they may have lost a battle in the plans to pay for repairs to the broken sewer line that triggered the Fraser sinkhole - but they're not done fighting yet.

The city started pushing back when Macomb County announced plans pay for repairs to the line. First they tried to sue, until a judge tossed the case on Monday.

"We lost a battle but we haven't lost the war. There is a count two that's still available to us and if you read the judge's opinion, it makes it very clear to us that count has legs and we're going to continue to pursue that for our ratepayers," Mayor of Sterling Heights Michael Taylor said.

Sterling Heights says they'll keep the pressure on by continue with the lawsuit. They're saying, essentially, that Macomb County is responsible for the $70 million it will take to repair the sink hole.

"The ratepayers deserve someone to look out for their back. The ratepayers are innocent here," Taylor said.

Back in 2010, the 11 cities that use the drain hired the Macomb County Waste water disposal district,  which is an agency of Macomb County. Its job was to operate, maintain, and make improvements to the interceptor. 

Sterling Heights says the county failed to do its job and, as a result, the sinkhole was formed.

County officials say the Sterling Heights lawsuit is like suing itself.  If the city wins and the county orders taxpayers to pay the $70 million, essentially the citizens will have to pay themselves the fine, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said.

"If the shoe were on the other foot, would the county say they wouldn't sue the city of Sterling Heights if we had an obligation and we didn't live up to our obligation?" Taylor said.

The obligation of the county now is --fix the sink hole with the purchase of bonds.   Many hope
this lawsuit will not hold up that bond sale. 

"I got an email from Candice Miller that says we are going to the bond market. They're going, the work is going to start and everyone is going to get paid. We're going to figure out who's going to pay for this later," Taylor said.

 

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