Marion Township officials aren’t interested in buying back residential equivalent units, or REUs, sold to the City of Howell, despite the efforts.

An REU is that portion of a user's facility that has an impact on the water and wastewater system equivalent to a single family residence. In the late 1990’s Marion Township created special assessment districts for the Highland-Howell property for 575 sewer REUs and 514 water REUs. Before the assessment could be paid off, the property was first transferred to City of Howell jurisdiction in 2005, and then bought by the City in 2013, with roughly $884,000 remaining on the balance. The city wants to sell the property, but hook the owners up to their services, which means they have no use for REUs. A letter from Howell City Manager Shea Charles to Marion Township Supervisor Bob Hanvey expressed an interest in selling the REUs back to Marion Township. Hanvey said they have no need for those REUs. He said the treatment plant is in Marion Township and they are partners who get 25% of the water. This comes to somewhere between 3 and 4 millions of gallons of water each day, but they only use 150,000.

Charles, in his letter, proposed 2 potential options for negotiating a deal. One is that the city would resell the REUs back at a discounted rate. The other was for the city to release a portion of the REUs in exchange for forgiveness of outstanding SAD payments, and then Marion Township purchase the remaining back over 10years at the City’s current rate. Charles’s letter stated that Marion Township stands to collect an additional $9-million from reselling the REUs.

The Marion Township Board of Trustees wanted nothing to do with it. Hanvey and Treasurer Duane Stokes wondered why they should buy them back. Hanvey used an analogy, saying this was as if one party sold a second party a car, then the second party won the lottery and didn’t need that car, and asked the first party to buy the car back. Trustee Dan Lowe, with regards to the water REUs, said he sees no way in the world they would ever take those back, as far as he is concerned.

Howell Director of Public Services Erv Suida was representing the city, and understanding of the Marion board’s point of view. He said he just hopes that they can keep friendly negotiations open, and that while they are in a time when a potential deal here is not needed, that might actually be the best time for both parties to strike one.

Hanvey said he would entertain a motion to “respectfully decline” the city’s options, which he received and which was passed unanimously. (MK/JK)