By Michael Cicchella, Northfield Township Supervisor 2004-2008

  • Comments on the Township plans to borrow $4.6 million dollars for a retention/equalization basin for the sewer system.

  • The total cost “estimate” is $6 Million+.

Some Clarification:

1 – Our sewer system is different than other municipalities.

We only have one sewer line. Unlike larger cities that have a sanitary line and storm line, our township has both rain and waste travel through one line, thus the problem.

2 - Revenue Bonds vs. General Obligation Bonds.

Revenue Bonds are normally issued to fund projects for a specific project with the expectation that only those residents who benefit will pay for it.
General Obligation Bonds, on the other hand, are the responsibility of all the residents in the township. The majority of our Board of Trustees seem to feel increased sewer fees will cover the $6M+ cost, but if they do not, township taxes will go up for everyone.

My concern is how the borrowing of the $4,6000,000 is being conducted.

Attached you will find our own township ordinance requiring the board to send out post cards to every resident telling us they plan on borrowing a significant amount of money. Residents have requested several times that the Board meet this obligation, but still no postcards.

The majority of the Board has chosen to keep residents in the dark. They have done the absolute minimum, posting a legal notice in the online Ann Arbor News, knowing full well most people do not read legal notices. One trustee, Jackie Otto said they got a legal opinion that the Board did not need to let us know ahead of time.

You must ask yourself why Trustee Otto would spend money on an attorney unless they were looking for a way not to send out a postcard.

The residents have 45 days after the “official posting” to object by collecting signatures on a petition and forcing a referendum vote. The petition requires 10% of the registered voters in the township to sign. There are only several weeks left.

You need to decide for yourself after reading our ordinance if you think they should have sent out the post card. After all a legal opinion is just that, an opinion not fact.

I was Supervisor when this ordinance was enacted and I know we wanted to make sure you had the opportunity to be heard ahead of time, which is 45 days after sending you a post card and posting in a newspaper, just like the township ordinance says, to give your input. Waiting for the 45-day period to expire eliminate resident feedback and action. You can go the Northfield Neighbors website ( to download a petition to put this on the ballot and let us vote on it. Instructions will be available there.

I think those Board members, who supported this action, must be held accountable this fall at the ballot booth, but that is just me. You need to decide. It’s your money and your decision on how it is spent.

We do need to address the infrequent wastewater problem because of regulatory issues. Everyone wants clean water, but the Board majority has not made the case for their solution and has deliberately ignored its own ordinance to inform residents of borrowing millions of dollars.