Heights to pay $1.9 million toward fixing Taylor Basin

By BOB OLIVER
Times-Herald Newspapers

HEIGHTS — The City Council unanimously passed a resolution agreeing that the city will pay its share of repair work being completed on the Taylor Basin and Jackson Street Pump Station, but members of the council and the mayor blatantly stated they do not think it’s fair.

The resolution states the city will pay just over $1.9 million, or roughly 68 percent, of the cost of the repairs, which will total $2.8 million.

The remainder of the cost will be split between the city of Taylor (25.8 percent), Wayne County (2.21 percent) and the state (3.79 percent).

The city and state have to pay their portions because the basin collects water drained from county and state highways.

The basin is located on the southwest corner of the intersection of I-94 and Pelham Drive and is in Taylor. It is an unmanned, automated sanitary sewage equalization facility.

Heavy rain April 18 and 19 last year caused a software error at the station that allowed pumps to stay open and overfill the basin, which in turn caused a partial collapse of its north wall and roof.

In response, the Ecorse Creek Pollution Drain No. 1 Drainage District shored, demolished and restored parts of the basin to return it to a partial level of service. In order to make it fully operational again, they are authorizing the assurance of bonds not to exceed $2.8 million to fund the work, which Dearborn Heights will help pay.

In 2009, the ECPAD issued $6.2 million in bonds for repair work of the basin, such as roof refurbishment and installing new pumps and control equipment.

Wayne County Drain Commissioner Kenneth Kucel said the improvements were “substantially completed” in early 2013 but prior to final acceptance and project closeout the failure occurred at the facility.

Mayor Daniel Paletko said the city has had talks with the county and expressed concern that they are footing a majority of the bill.

“The basin was refurbished and then the problem came,” Paletko said. “In our meetings with Wayne County, we have told them that we think this is unfair. We are reluctantly having to agree to this but it seems totally unfair”

He said the city is in a position where it has to get the basin fixed as soon as possible.

“The difficulty that we have is that the basin takes a lot of excess flow, so if we don’t get this repaired, it’s going to be in people’s basements or on the front of their street,” Paletko said.

Paletko also said representatives of the county told him in December that they are having their attorneys looking into the matter and that a lawsuit may come out of that.

“Wayne County maintains the basin,” Paletko said. “They are investigating the software error that caused the pump to continue to pump and they have indicated to the city that they would pursue whatever legal means they have to rectify the situation.”

He said he is not aware of any current litigation but he is trying to set up a meeting for early February between the city and members of the Wayne County Department of Public Services.

Councilwoman Marge Horvath said she also did not agree that the city should have to pay over 68 percent of the bill and asked if the city would be rebated if the county won a lawsuit regarding the matter.

“We should be,” Paletko said. “We should be reimbursed.”

Also at the meeting, Grants Coordinator Chris Klimchalk spoke at the first of what will be two public hearings on how the city will spend funding available under the Community Development Block Grant.

The CDBG is made available through the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the funding is to be used to prevent or eliminate slums or blight and to benefit low and moderate people based on limited clientele, income areas and household income.

Klimchalk said the city is projecting to have just over $900,000 in CDBG funds allocated to them for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

The proposed usage of the funding is roughly $1.07 million, which Klimchalk said is the reason that the Community and Economic Development Department wants to have discussions with the public about what can be done to help while bringing the expenditures down.

The second public hearing will take place in March.

(Bob Oliver can be reached at boliver@bewickpublications.com.)