The Four Lakes Special Assessment District (SAD) is an established geographic boundary of waterfront properties along or near the four lakes and “backlot” properties with dedicated (private easement) access. Under Part 307, a county board may determine by resolution that the whole or a part of the cost of a project to establish and maintain a normal level for an inland lake shall be defrayed by special assessments.
learn more about the Operations & Maintenance special assessment
Click on the buttons below to learn more about how the methodology was updated, see your parcels on the map, and look at your annual operations assessment amount. The assessment will appear on the winter 2022 tax bill.
capital improvements assessment
Estimated capital improvement assessments will be determined in the future.
*Capital Assessment estimates are subject to variation of +/- 30% because of cost sensitivities such as construction costs, the financing term and interest rates.
Operations and Capital Assessment Calculation
DERIVED BENEFIT x
WATERFRONT VIEW x
Width of waterway perpendicular to shoreline frontage of parcel.
After discussions with the Counties, there will tentatively be a 3% at-large assessment for Midland and Gladwin counties
After discussions with the Counties, there will tentatively be a 3% at-large assessment for Midland and Gladwin counties
- This will be voted on and approved by the county Boards of Commissioners on July 12
- Important clarification: this is not a new millage or tax to county residents. This would be managed within the county general funds
- 3% apportionment to each county
- FLTF is looking at the at-large assessment relative to the burden it is placing on the townships
- 3% apportionment to 9 townships and the Village of Sanford based on the total amount of benefit the parcels within the given municipality and within the SAD provide when compared to the entire district
All information is tentative and subject to change after property owners and the counties review it in June and July 2022.
- July 12, 2022 | Joint Gladwin and Midland County Meeting on SAD. This is a special joint meeting of Gladwin and Midland County Commissioners to review and approve the Four Lakes Special Assessment District Roll for Operations and Maintenance Assessments for 2022 through 2024 and to review and approve the estimated project costs for the dam repair and restoration.
- July 27, 2022: Deadline for appeals
- December 2022: Operations assessment appears on winter 2022 taxes
Four LAkes Special Assessment District faqs
What is the role of a Special Assessment District?
The Four Lakes Special Assessment District is a special public body established by the 2019 Lake Level Order by Midland County Judge Stephen Carras on behalf of both Gladwin and Midland counties in May 2019.
The Four Lakes Special Assessment District consists of lakefront properties as well as backlot properties that have access to the lakes, the boundaries of which were confirmed by the 2019 Lake Level Order after numerous public meetings, and resolutions from the Gladwin and Midland County Boards of Commissioners.
The counties have determined that all costs associated with the maintenance of the legal levels for the four lakes should be financed by special assessments to the benefitted properties within the Special Assessment District. In other words, the Four Lakes Special Assessment District is the source of funding for the maintenance of the lakes. While there can be other sources, such as government, private and public funding, and perhaps hydropower to offset assessments, the Four Lakes Assessment District is considered the primary source of funding to maintain the lakes.
WHO IS IN THE FOUR LAKES SPECIAL ASSESSMENT DISTRICT?
Properties that have access to the lakes through the shoreline, private roads or deeded access. The properties in the Special Assessment District – after public review, notifications and opportunity to appeal – were established in the May 2019 Court Order.
WHO GRANTS THE AUTHORITY FOR THE LAKES?
All four lakes (Sanford, Wixom, Smallwood and Secord) are “artificial lakes” created by the damming of the Tobacco and Tittabawassee rivers. The authority to “have lakes” is somewhat complicated and involves an understanding of over 100 years of historical information that led to the formation of the lakes and the relationship with the private dam owner.
In May 2019, the Midland Circuit Court entered an order (“2019 Lake Level Order”) establishing the legal levels for each of the lakes in accordance with Part 307, Inland Lake Levels, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 Pa 451, as amended.
Part 307 is the exclusive authority for a county or counties to make policy decisions to ensure the establishment and maintenance of the level of an inland lake.
Midland and Gladwin counties have directed that all costs associated with the maintenance of the lake levels be paid by special assessments. The 2019 Lake Level Order also established and confirmed the Four Lakes Special Assessment District.
The Four Lakes Special Assessment District is a special purpose public body, and the Four Lakes Task Force is the county delegated authority, acting on behalf of the Four Lakes Special Assessment District.
What Should Property Owners Know About Part 307?
What are the regulations surrounding how the special assessment is distributed?
Part 307 states that special assessments can be determined based on “benefits derived” to the property owner and that FLTF is responsible for determining the factors that contribute to the derived benefits. In general, there is no specific method of allocating the cost of improvements, except that the method selected must be fair, just, equal and in proportion to the benefits conferred. These benefits include factors like frontage, zoning and property use.
HOW WILL PROPERTY OWNERS’ INPUT BE HEARD?
CAN WE HAVE A PUBLIC VOTE ON THE FOUR LAKES SPECIAL ASSESSMENT DISTRICT?
The short answer: No, there is no public vote in connection with the Four Lakes Special Assessment District. In accordance with Part 307, the Counties of Midland and Gladwin decided that all costs associated with the maintenance of the lake levels are to be defrayed by special assessments. To this end, and again, in accordance with Part 307, the Four Lakes Special Assessment District was legally established by Circuit Court order in May 2019. The process for making, levying and collecting special assessments will be similar to the process set forth in the Michigan Drain Code of 1956, Act 40, as amended. Each property owner will receive notice of their assessment, an opportunity to participate in a public “Day of Review” and object, and have a right to appeal the final assessment following the approval of the assessment rolls by each of the county board of commissioners.
HOW DO I APPEAL THE ASSESSMENT?
In accordance with Part 307, the Counties of Midland and Gladwin decided that all costs associated with the maintenance of the lake levels are to be defrayed by special assessments. To this end, and again, in accordance with Part 307, the Four Lakes Special Assessment District was legally established by Circuit Court order in May 2019. The process for making, levying and collecting special assessments will be similar to the process set forth in the Michigan Drain Code of 1956, Act 40, as amended. Each property owner will receive notice of their assessment, an opportunity to participate in a public “Day of Review” and object, and have a right to appeal the final assessment following the approval of the assessment rolls by each of the county board of commissioners.
You have a window to appeal the assessment in steps 4 and 8.
Once the assessment amount is established, what is the process for changing it in the future?
If we want to make any major changes to the assessment in the future, it must go through the process again as defined in Part 307.
Assessment Amount & Methodology
WHY DID THE ASSESSMENT METHODOLOGY CHANGE?
We received a significant amount of feedback from property owners within the Four Lakes Special Assessment District after publishing the initial draft methodology. Based on this input, we made changes to address numerous concerns and factors related to apportioning benefits as provided in Part 307 (Inland Lake Levels). The changes made clearly acknowledge that the Four Lakes Special Assessment District contains many parcels with unique circumstances. The revised assessment methodology is more sensitive and accounts for these circumstances when apportioning benefits to individual parcels and is less geared towards a one size fits all approach.
Over the past few months, our engineers collected a significant amount of data to develop more customized benefit factors that consider your water view, your water frontage, your water depth, and several other factors to calculate an overall benefit factor for each parcel based on its unique and special circumstances.
Why aren’t property owners with two or more parcels (properties) assessed as one?
With the initial draft methodology, which was developed before the dam failure, the factors considered the following:
The average waterfront parcel is about one-third of that size, being 90 ft., therefore, a single lot with 50 ft. of frontage was assessed nearly the same as a double lot with 300 ft. of frontage. Also, if you sold the second lot, the new owner would not have an assessment for the dam improvements.
With the currently proposed methodology:
The revised proposed methodology addresses a wider diversity of parcel benefits. Ultimately, the assessment of the benefit (body of water) applies to the parcel, not the property owner. Given the long-term nature of lake assessments and development opportunities, it is the responsibility of the owner to take action to combine parcels and property owners have ample time to do so before the assessment roll is established as well as review your benefit factors online and voice any questions or concerns you have.
WHAT COSTS ARE INCLUDED IN ASSESSMENTS?
Costs are categorized in two ways and will be assessed as follows: operations costs and capital improvement costs.
Operations costs pay for operations and management of the lakes during the transition to their normal levels, emergency repairs, the development of operational plans, and long-term, ongoing operations.
Capital improvement costs are fixed, one-time expenses to make the dams operable (construction and repairs). Payments in connection with capital improvements will not occur until we finalize engineering plans, obtain all permits, receive construction bids, and conduct the Special Assessment hearing.
Have property owners paid the special assessment yet or paid for any project costs?
No. As of January 2022, we have not imposed a special assessment on properties within the Special Assessment District. FLTF cannot legally impose a special assessment without first following the procedures outlined in Part 307. No property owners have contributed to project costs through assessments at this point. We do appreciate the support and donations from property owners and others that have allowed us to get this far in restoring the lakes without assessments.
Will the same methodology apply to the capital improvement assessment?
Yes, we’ll use the same methodology if there is a capital improvement assessment. The size of this assessment, if there is one, is highly dependent on the current legislation moving through the Michigan Senate and House.
Why does my parcel have the wrong name on it?
Property owner information is updated to the GIS system periodically, so if you sell a parcel, split a parcel or combine a parcel, it may take time to see that updated on the county GIS system. Please contact us if the name on your parcel is incorrect and we will coordinate with County and Township staff to update.
Are the property lines on the GIS map accurate?
The property boundaries shown on the GIS layers were drafted from the property descriptions of the tax records and or deeds. The location your property line as shown on the GIS is not a surveyed depiction of the exact location of your property boundary. It would require a substantial effort on behalf of the counties to construct and maintain a county wide GIS system that meets boundary survey accuracy requirements for every property boundary in the county. The county GIS was developed to assist with administering the property information records for tax and governance purposes. It is not suitable for property boundary disputes. You should contact a professional surveyor for more detailed property boundary information.
WHAT AUTHORITY REGULATES DAM SAFETY?
With respect to dam safety, if any of the lakes produce hydropower, then FERC has the authority to require the person who holds the license to address dam safety. If there is no FERC license, the State of Michigan regulates dam safety. In either case, FLTF as the county delegated authority and acting on behalf of the Four Lakes Special Assessment District has the authority to manage the lake levels.
Will the SAD pay for Flood programs below the Dams?
No, there is a separate program for that which is not under FLTF. We have had over $2.5 million committed from Midland private funders to FLTF - almost all of this is being used for recovery, flood studies or general funds. We are engaged with Midland groups as needed to be aligned in planning. We have coordinated some funds to put rain and flow gauges in a few rivers outside of the Four Lakes scope which is being funding by government grants and Midland-based funding.
Why IS fOUR lAKES CONSIDERING AN AT-LARGE ASSESSMENT FOR THE COUNTIES AND TOWNSHIPS?
Just as a private parcel benefits from a body of water, the counties/village/townships benefit from the bodies of water as well because of the economic benefits and recreational activities the water brings. This in turn, benefits all residents whether they use the lakes for recreation or not.
WHAT ABOUT WEEDS?
Normally aquatic weed management is the responsibility of the Lake Improvement Boards or weed special assessment districts. FLTF will be working with these entities to determine the best path forward to manage weeds and tree growth during this transition period.
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE ASSESSMENT IF I SELL MY PROPERTY?
Generally, payment of a special assessment is between the seller and buyer of the property. A seller and buyer may choose to structure the purchase agreement so the buyer assumes the special assessments. At times, special assessments are paid in full at the time of sale (meaning the full amount is deducted from the purchase price).