Two prospective developers agreed to pay $8 million in assessments once they built homes that would utilize the new systems. But the economy crashed, and the homes were never built. A recently settled court battle over those assessments relieved the developers of responsibility for the vast majority of the $8 million, and it even gave one of the companies, Norfolk Development Corporation, 301 prepaid sewer taps on its property for future use. That left Sylvan's residents on the hook for the debt.
Last year, Washtenaw County Commissioner Rob Turner negotiated an agreement with the county treasurer's office. The county agreed to accept repayment over a twenty-year period, with payments to be funded by a new 4.75-mill property tax.
Sylvan supervisor Bob Lange was pretty sure those terms were better than the township was likely to get if the county sued for repayment. "I think if we have a court-imposed millage it will be nine mills or more," he says. "Either way it's tough on people, but 4.75 is better than that." But even after multiple public education sessions held by Turner and township attorney Peter Flintoft, Sylvan voters turned down the millage, 475 to 328.