Drain office objects to township plans to hire a sewer contractor

FLINT TWP. — A hand-delivered, certified letter from the Genesee County Drain Commissioners Office to Township Clerk Kathy Funk is challenging the township’s board to seek bids for a new contractor to maintain the sanitary sewer collection system and pump stations.

County Water and Waste (GCWW), a division of the drain commission, currently maintains the system. The letter, signed by John F. O’Brien, director of the division of water and waste services, pointed out that it has a lateral sewer system operation and/or maintenance agreement with the township valid until 2024.

The letter further expressed “shock” after reading in The Flint Township View that the township board was seeking bids for a new contractor to manage the system. It also cited a Request for Bids Proposal posted on the township’s website.

“The agency is baffled that the Township took these actions without first discussing them with the Agency,” the letter stated. “The Agency is not aware of any problems of its performance with the Agreement nor is the agency aware of any failures of the Township’s system attributable to lack of maintenance. Since the Agency is required under the Agreement to respond to a failure and correct it, we believe you would have informed us if one had occurred.”

The letter further questions the township’s actions as an “anticipatory breach” of the agreement and requests an immediate meeting to discuss it.

Trustee Frank Kasle asked if the clerk would respond to the letter.

Township Supervisor said a copy was sent to the township attorney who is reviewing it.

Kasle said he hoped the township board would avoid doing anything to jeopardize its status with the drain commission and also avoid being sued. Kasle stressed that terminating the contract be handled in “the proper way with proper notice, “if the board decides to take that action.

Before deciding to bid out the sewer maintenance contract, the board heard a report from deputy supervisor Randall Stewart and Mike Pifer of Kraft Engineering & Surveying, Inc. The report contained detailed descriptions of deteriorating conditions at the township’s four sewage pumping stations including a warning that one is in imminent danger of failure which could cause backups in hundreds of homes. Photos were included.

Stewart guided Davison Township through a similar independent sewer maintenance process about 14 years ago and said that bidding out the work could end up getting the township better service at a lower cost.

The township reportedly pays GCWW $432,000 a year – ($36,000 per month) to manage and maintain its sewer system.

The bid submission deadline for outside contractors interested in taking over the job is June 13.

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