Sterling Heights lawsuit challenges cost, responsibility for Fraser sinkhole fix

Sinkhole repair in Macomb County could cost city $22 million

FRASER, Mich. – Countless holes are being put in to repair a massive sinkhole in Fraser, and while major progress is being made, much more needs to be done.

County officials said Monday that the project is going to need more money and more time.

Now there's a new lawsuit that questions who should foot the bill for the project.

Taxpayers in Sterling Heights are asking why they should be paying for a problem that was caused by someone else. The sinkhole repair in Macomb County could cost the city $22 million. The mayor said Sterling Heights shouldn't be on the hook, so a lawsuit has been filed.

"We want to verify, if no repair work was done, then the wastewater district should be responsible for paying this $22 million, not Sterling Heights," Mayor Michael C. Taylor said.

Macomb County's wastewater district was contracted in 2010 to maintain the sewer line back. Public Works Commissioner Candace Miller oversees the department and is a member of the drainage board that operates the sewer.

LIVE CAM: Fraser sinkhole

"I understand we're asking her to file a lawsuit against herself, so I understand she might not be too happy about that," Taylor said.

"Our financial advisor has advised us that because Sterling Heights has filed this lawsuit (that) we will be unable to sell the required bonds to finance the repair of the collapsed 15 Mile Sewer Interceptor," Miller said in a statement. "It is unclear at this time how we will proceed with this project."

The bond sale would get the county the loan it needs to pay contractors for the cleanup.

"I don't believe this will be something that holds up the bond sale or the repair work," Taylor said. "This is too important to the county and Sterling Heights."

"With the bonds deal being delayed, I think they're still going to go ahead and get this fixed and work on a financial solution to this later. I believe that," County Commissioner Robert Mijac said.

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