Frequently Asked Questions about Drain Assessments
What is a Drain Special Assessment?,
County drainage districts are public corporations (similar to a city, village or township). Each drainage district is supported by a drain special assessment that covers the cost of maintaining the county-owned portion of the drainage system. Livingston County's operating millage is for a number of county operations; it does not fund drain maintenance.
What is a Drainage District?,
A drainage district is a legally established area of land that benefits from a common outlet. Drainage district boundaries are determined by historical records and the natural topography of the land. Drainage districts rarely correspond to political boundaries, such as townships. Common words for drainage district include watershed and drainage basin.
Where is the storm drain for which I am being assessed?,
Even if your property is not near the county drain, stormwater flows toward this county drain as an outlet, regardless of the land's elevation. Maps will be available on the Day of Review that show the location of your property and its proximity to the county drain. As records are computerized, some of these maps will be available on our website.
Why did I receive more than one Special Assessment Notice?,
Each notice informs you of a Drain Special Assessment for a different drainage district. Your property can be in multiple drainage districts, because stormwater moves from smaller watersheds through larger watersheds, ultimately discharging to the Great Lakes. For example, if your property was located in a small watershed that is "nested" inside a larger watershed, you would receive an assessment for each district, should they both be assessed in the same year.
Is this the only way I would receive multiple drain assessments in one year?,
No. Water may flow off your property in several directions to different drains and drainage districts. All of those drains may be assessed in one year.
How are assessments determined?,
The law requires that apportionments be based on benefits derived as determined by the Drain Commissioner. Apportionments are based on size of the parcel but can include a number of factors, depending on the work done on the drain. Drainage is considered as an interdependent system with the entire system benefitting from maintenance of the common outlet.
What is the difference between an apportionment and an assessment?,
An apportionment is your portion of the drainage district stated as a percentage. An assessment is your portion of the dollar amount to be assessed to the drainage district based on your apportionment.
Do all property owners pay drain assessments?,
All property owners within a drainage district receive an assessment unless specifically exempted by law. In addition, the municipality (i.e., township, city or village), Livingston County (for the Livingston County Road Commission), the Michigan Department of Transportation (as appropriate) and railroads (as appropriate) also receive an assessment for a portion of the maintenance costs. The Michigan Drain Code does not exempt most non-profit or religious properties from assessments.
I recently purchased my property. Why am I being billed for work done prior to my ownership?,
Although the work may have been completed prior to your purchase, the Drain Code requires that assessments be levied to the property and assessed to the current owner. In most cases, the work performed will benefit the property for years to come.
What is the purpose of the Day of Review?,
It is an opportunity to review your apportionment. The Drain Commissioner or a staff member will hear property owners' concerns and review/reconsider the apportionment of benefits. Attendance at the Day of Review to file a protest against your appointment is a requirement to appeal your assessment.
What if I cannot attend the Day of Review?,
If you are unable to attend the Day of Review and have questions or concerns regarding your apportionment or the assessment process, you can state them in writing to the Livingston County Drain Commissioner on or before the Day or Review. You can also send a designated representative to the meeting in your place. It is possible to make an appointment at times other than the Day of Review, although the appeal period begins after the day of the Day of Review.
What happens if I disagree with the proposed assessment for my property?,
An appeal of Drain Special Assessments may be made to the Probate Court within 10 days after the Day of Review, when the Drain Commissioner confirms the Special Assessment Roll. In order to appeal, the special assessment must have been protested by marking "Yes" on the sign-in sheet at the Day of Review or in a letter to the Drain Commissioner's Office that must be received by the Drain Commissioner on or before the Day of Review.