The Iosco County Board of Commissioners approved two resolutions regarding an estimated $610,000 dam project to maintain the water level of Cedar Lake. Pictured here, from left, are bond attorney John Axe, Iosco County Drain Commissioner Fred Strauer and board chair Rob Huebel.

TAWAS CITY – Two resolutions regarding the Cedar Lake water level were approved 5-0 by the Iosco County Board of Commissioners, at their Nov. 20 regular meeting.

A special assessment district (SAD) will come into play for the estimated $610,000 project, with the lake’s involved property owners comprised of those in Iosco County’s Oscoda Township, and Alcona County’s Greenbush Township.

“What you have before you today is a resolution from your board – and I’m going to get another resolution from the board up in Alcona County at 1 p.m. when they meet – to pledge your full faith and credit and support of the $285,000 note,” said bond attorney John Axe.

“We have an existing pair of notes which are going to be paid off with this note, and then we’re going to be issuing bonds in February. We’ll be back to get your full faith and credit on the bond issue,” he continued.

Axe explained that Iosco County Drain Commissioner Fred Strauer is working on the project in conjunction with Alcona County Drain Commissioner Jesse Campbell.

Strauer informed the board that the lake level drawdown work can only be done in the winter, so the project has to be carried out in the February/March time frame. Bids have gone out, the assessment roll is set and everything is in place, but the work can’t begin until the start of the coming year.

“So that’s basically why we can’t pay it back, because we can’t get our bank note until we start, so to speak,” Strauer advised.

He said the work will include putting in a cement box culvert and reconstructing the soil.

“What they have in there now was put in in 1950,” Strauer said of the existing four-foot tube, which he described as corroded, half crushed and ready to cave in.

“There’s nothing there; it floods. It’s just like a big grate, so the beavers build a dam on it all the time,” he added, noting that Alcona County Road Commission staff, therefore, are constantly fixing the issue.

“This new design is more like a seawall, tapered in to this box culvert with an opening big enough that it will suck limbs through,” Strauer said of the roughly eight-foot-wide, four-foot-high structure. “There’s also drainage work below the drain to stabilize the banks, because now we’re going to have more flow.” 

According to Strauer, the improvements will maintain the normal level of Cedar Lake, as established by the Alcona County Circuit Court.

“But in the summer time it will not make the water stay the same. If it dries up, it dries up. That’s one thing the people wanted, but you can’t do that,” he continued, pointing out that there is no pump or other mechanism to maintain that level. “So it’s going to basically just – in the spring up until midsummer – keep it where it’s court-ordered.”

Axe said the SAD – formally called the Cedar Lake Level Control Structure Special Assessment District – has been established and the necessary hearing has been held. “And that’s how it will be paid back. We’ll be issuing a seven-year bond issue.”

It was also noted that most property owners who attended the hearing voiced that they wanted to prepay, which would cost $800 a lot. Otherwise, it is $120.41 per year for the seven-year period.

“So everything is done, we just can’t do it until we’re allowed,” Axe reiterated.

The first resolution approved by commissioners pledges Iosco County’s full faith and credit for the payment of note of the SAD.

It reads that Part 307 of the Michigan Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, “Inland Lake Levels,” governs the process for the determination, establishment and maintenance of the water levels of inland lakes, and authorizes counties to finance, construct, operate and maintain dams as necessary to maintain such levels as determined by the circuit court.

It is further outlined that, pursuant to a petition filed in the Alcona County Circuit Court on Dec. 19, 2017, the court entered an order establishing the Cedar Lake SAD and confirmed the SAD boundaries.

In regards to the estimated $610,000 undertaking, the following is a summary of what is also include in the resolution:

• The district has previously issued a note in the amount of $105,000 to Alcona County – bearing an interest rate of 3.10 percent per annum that will mature on Dec. 2, 2019 – to pay certain preliminary costs for acquiring and constructing the project (Series 2018, Note I).

• For the same purpose, the district has also previously issued a note in the amount of $105,000 to Huntington Public Capital Corporation, bearing an interest rate of 3.80 percent per annum, which will mature on Dec. 2, 2019 (Series 2018, Note II).

• More funds are required to pay certain additional preliminary costs of acquiring and constructing the project, and to redeem the 2018 Series Note I and II (including accrued interest), and to authorize a new note of the Drainage District in an amount not to exceed $285,000 for the project.

This note will be issued on or about Nov. 27 and will mature on May 1, 2020. It will bear an interest rate of 1.87 percent per annum.

The other resolution approved by the board acknowledges the SAD which was established, as well as the Nov. 12 public hearing to review the computation of costs of a lake level project and its special assessment roll.

As previously reported, a Dec. 19, 2017 23rd Judicial Circuit Court hearing was held at the Alcona County Courthouse, which established a court ordered lake level and determined the SAD.

Cedar Lake is 1,075 acres in size, and is situated one-half mile east of Lake Huron. It is approximately 5.9 miles long, and is about 0.2 miles wide, with approximately 700 private properties around its shoreline.

It was during the hearing – presided by Judge Laura A. Frawley – when Campbell said the lake level of 608.5 feet above sea level, originally set by a court order in 1954, will continue to be maintained.

A dam structure was built in the 1950s, on the very north end of the lake, to provide regulation of  the court ordered level.

At the time of the hearing, Campbell said the dam was located a couple of inches below the water level.

When several people who attended the court hearing asked why a SAD needed to be established, Frawley explained that SADs must exist on lakes with court ordered water levels. Cedar Lake is the only lake in Alcona County which is not spring or naturally fed, and is subject to court orders.

As reported, a SAD was not established in 1954, or anytime thereafter, to provide a reliable source of maintenance funding.

A Dec. 1, 2017 letter from the Alcona-Iosco Cedar Lake Association reads that poor dam conditions and recommended actions were first noted in 2013 and confirmed in November 2016, with a dam inspection by Huron Engineering and Surveying. Per the report, there was “significant corrosion” and “invert failure,” with the firm recommending both discharge culverts be replaced.