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Frequently Asked Questions

County drainage districts are separate public corporations with their own financial records. Each drainage district is supported by a Drain Special Assessment that covers the cost of maintaining the drainage system. County drains are not maintained by Saginaw County general fund taxes.

A drainage district is a legally established area of land that drains to a common outlet. Drainage district boundaries are determined by the natural topography of the land and rarely correspond to political boundaries such as townships or counties. Common words for drainage district include watershed and drainage basin.

The Day of Review is an opportunity for those being assessed to view the apportionment of benefits. This is also an opportunity for property owners to file a protest against their apportionment. It is not mandatory to attend.

If you are unable to attend the Day of Review and have questions regarding your assessment or the assessment process, please call the Saginaw County Public Works Office. It is possible to make an appointment at times other than the Day of Review, although the appeal period begins after the date of the Day of Review. Most questions may be answered with a phone call.

The Saginaw County Public Works Office has maps that can show the location of your property and the county drain within the drainage district. These documents will be available on the Day of Review. Even if your property does not touch the county drain, storm water flows toward this county drain as an outlet regardless of the land’s elevation.

The law requires that assessments be based on benefit derived as determined by the Public Works Commissioner. All properties within the drainage district are assessed based on the size of the parcel (in the drainage district) and the land use that is assigned by the municipality. Distances from the drain or the location of the property within the drainage district are not factors. Drainage is considered as an interdependent system with the entire system benefiting from maintenance of the common outlet.

Although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, the apportionment is a parcel’s percentage of the total cost of the drain maintenance or drain project. The assessment is the dollar amount to be paid by the landowner on behalf of his or her parcel.

All property owners within a drainage district receive an assessment, unless specifically exempted by law. In addition, the municipality, Saginaw County, the Railroads, and Michigan Department of Transportation (as appropriate) also receive an assessment for a portion of the maintenance costs. The Drain Code does not exempt most non-profit or religious properties from assessment.

Each notice informs you of a Drain Special Assessment for a different drainage district. Your property can be in multiple drainage districts because storm water moves from smaller watersheds through larger watersheds, ultimately discharging to the Great Lakes. For example, if your property is “nested” inside a larger watershed you would receive an assessment for each district, should they both be assessed in the same year. Also water may flow off your property in more than one direction to different drains and drainage districts and all of those drains may be assessed in one year

Although the work for which you are being assessed may have been completed prior to your purchase of the land, the Drain Code requires that the assessment be levied to the property, and assessed to the current owner of record. In most cases, the work performed will benefit the property for years to come.

Appeal of Drain Special Assessments may be made to the Saginaw County Probate Court within 10 days after the Day of Review