MACOMB COUNTY (WJBK) - The repairs on the Fraser Sinkhole are moving along, but the lawsuit filed by Sterling Heights against the Macomb Interceptor Drain District is on the verge of causing a major road block, officials say.
Many believe this catastrophic event was inevitable due to a lack of maintenance and inspections over a period of decades.
"Because of my predecessor who they are alleging was negligent and corrupt, that they should not have to pay. That the rate payers of Sterling Heights should not have to pay their fair share," said Public Works Commissioner Candace Miller.
County Executive Mark Hackel, Candace Miller, and the Mayor of Fraser all say this is causing a divide, saying if the City of Sterling Heights doesn't pay its fair share of 22 million in the roughly $70 million project, it will cause rates for the other surrounding cities in the county to go up on their residents.
"I understand protecting your rate payers, that's what we're all here to do. It was very poor timing and it really put a division in the county that shouldn't be there," Fraser Mayor Joe Nichols said.
"It's not that the rate payers are paying a third more, everyone is paying the same. To say Sterling Heights is because they have more residents if you will," Hackel said.
City and County leaders say the lawsuit is hurting the interest rate, saying a premium will have to be paid, and that would add up to $10 million in additional costs.
Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor said the claim of $10 million in additional costs is not correct. He said the city will pay its fair share and the lawsuit is an action taken to hold the right party accountable."
"It could be the county. It could be a contractor. It could be an insurance company. We will never know if the MIDD doesn't do anything. Right now, the MIDD is not doing anything but for assessing the rate payers. We know the rate payers didn't do anything wrong, so why aren't they trying to find the people who are responsible," Taylor said.
Right now, the repair project on the sinkhole is scheduled to be completed by September.