November 1, 2014

Council members, mayor explain difference in views on Migizi deal

By Tim Barnum|Staff writer
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STANDISH — To say there’s a rift in Standish City Council may be a stretch, but after the last special city council meting on May 21, where a deal with the Migizi Corporation was accepted, it’s clear that Mayor Kevin King, the lone dissenter in the vote on the deal, and members of city council have a clear difference in opinion on how the deal will work out.

According to the final proposal, which was approved by city council 5-1-1, laid out by Migizi, a developmental entity of the Saginaw-Chippewa Indian Tribe, Migizi will pay $5/1,000 gallons of water and $2.75/1,000 gallons of sewer plus $.20 for sewer debt – less than the rates for businesses and homeowners inside the city (city rates are $6.70 are 1,000 gallons of water used, $3.30 for 1,000 gallons of sewer waste, plus 75 cents for sewer debt payment).

“In ten years, if we give them the projected discount, and their approximate use is 12,000 gallons per day (maximum estimate), if they use that maximum over ten years, their discount will be $73,443 over ten years for water and sewer will be $21,600 over ten year,” said city council member Lester Cousineau, adding the estimated $1.3 million infrastructure to extend city utilities to the developmental area on M-13 will be turned over to the city as soon as it’s completed.

“They’re (Migizi) going to pay about $341,280. … That’s with discounted rates,” added council member Jerry Nelson. “We get the benefit of jobs, we get the benefit of water revenue (for future tap-ins along the line).

“Really it’s a project that we would never be able to do on our own,” he added. “I see the houses in town that are vacant, people living in them. … I see more restaurants.

“I see nothing but good in this.”

In past interviews with Migizi representatives, it was estimated that the hotel, one of two developments planning on utilizing city utilities, would create 40 – 60 jobs.

Cousineau added that people staying at the hotel would also be driving into the city to buy groceries, shop and eat at local restaurants. He says it will also open up more business opportunities.

“The impact, I think, is going to be great for the city,” Cousineau said.

Standish Mayor Kevin King sees the deal in a different light, however.

“Anyone else would pay double (the city rates),” he said. “Inside the city, you’re going to pay about 18 mills more. … The tax base is going to the townships (Standish and Lincoln).

“You’re not going to see anybody building in the city anymore,” King added. “I fear that the development is going to happen outside the city limits.”

He says council shouldn’t be excited about the infrastructure being turned over to the city, as any development outside city limits, and he cited Pine River Golf Course in Standish Township as an example, have done the same thing and still paid double the in-city rates.

“Anyone that gets water outside the city, they pay for it, then it gets turned over to the city,” King said. “The whole notion that the Tribe is paying for the pipe, yeah, that’s what they do.

“That’s the way it’s always been”

He also says the negotiations process was flawed.

“We started out stating that out of town would start at $13.40 and their (Migizi) counterproposal came back at $5,” King said, adding this price was approved by council. “We went from one end of the spectrum to the flip side.

“I can not see how the other side has a leg to argue.”

Nelson had similar words for King’s stance.

“I can’t see the other side,” he said. “I see all the benefits.”

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