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What is a special assessment district?


SAD’s - the short version:

1-SAD’s are initiated by petition of the residents by an organized group wanting the change and willing to pay for it. If the interested group has enough support, they usually do the project without the involvement of the government which is required to follow their posted meeting & payment schedule, etc.

2-If there is enough support, the township board may begin a 3-meeting process of public hearings, during which the petitioning group provides detailed reports of the scope and costs of the project with 3 bids for comparison. (The public hearings start in June to ensure the money can be collected on the winter tax bill as this money can not be collected on the summer bill. Thus petitions must be signed within 90 days prior to June 1st to ensure the signatures represent current land owners and allow time for signatures/land ownership verification prior to the 1st meeting in June.)

3-if a SAD is approved by the board, the money is collected only from those in the assessment district, via their winter tax bill.

4-all expenditures in the SAD must be approved by the govt body before payment and follow the plan & costs previously submitted to the board and taxpayers. Payments are approved at the regular monthly meetings to avoid additional costs to the SAD.  Since it is run through the government, we must comply with the meeting schedule, documentation and payment requirements. Therefore, change is not always easy, quick or without additional costs.


Another Option

Some residents/organizations have enough support to do a project on their own without asking the township to collect money for their project via taxes. The benefit here is this is often quicker and more flexible than what a government can legally offer. The drawback may be collection of money, but if there is enough support then it is not any more difficult than getting signed petitions. In either case, open meetings and legal compliance remain key. Some deciding factors may be: the size and cost of the project (very large or very small); do you have the expertise needed for such a project; is there overwhelming support for this project or just a few who feel strongly; is there enough support from the residents to develop enough expertise to run it themselves.


Public improvements (via SAD) are authorized by Public Act 188 of 1954, as amended (MCL 41.721) and can  include various projects:

• The construction, improvement, and maintenance of storm or sanitary systems, water systems, public roads, public parks, or private roads, sidewalk. bicycle paths, lighting systems.
• The collection and disposal of garbage and rubbish
• The eradication or control of aquatic weeds and plants
• The construction, improvement, and maintenance of a lake, pond, river, stream, lagoon, or other body of water or of an improvement to the body of water. This includes, but is not limited to, dredging (if allowed).


SAD's can formed for many purposes: roads, lights, etc. But lakes are alive and so only lakes can have a Government Lake Board. Government Lake Boards (NR-EPA Public Act 451) are great!

They offer a lake association member (riparian landowner) a seat a the table and a vote! The other board members have expertise in local water management (ie: drain commissioner) and this board dedicated solely to the health and treatment of your lake! Every meeting is about your lake, it's needs and services.

Lake boards do not replace the need or role of the lake association, it replaces the township board with members that have more expertise and the board has a singular focus, making for better discussion and faster decisions.

Most GLB members are not paid to attend meetings, but they can be. If needed, the GLB can and should retain an attorney to stay current with legal requirements, guidelines and deadlines. GLB meetings are efficient and open to everyone!



For a summary of Weed District/SAD process, click here


SWxSW Corner Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area


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