Macomb County Officials Refuse To Release Insurance Policies That May Cover $70 Million Repair Cost
The City of Sterling Heights is expanding its lawsuit over the 15 Mile Road sewer collapse and sinkhole. Due to the irreconcilable conflict of interest of the Macomb Interceptor Drain Drainage District (“MIDDD”) board, the expanded suit seeks the appointment of an independent receiver to oversee the MIDDD’s claim against the county to recover more than $70 Million in repair costs.
Through no fault of their own, Macomb County officials Candice Miller, Robert Mijac and Bryan Santo also currently serve as the three-member board of the MIDDD. As both MIDDD board members and county officials, these three have an unavoidable conflict of interest because they are on both sides of the dispute. The appointment of a receiver would allow pursuit of a claim against Macomb County to recover the $70 million repair cost of the 15 Mile sewer collapse and sinkhole.
According to the City’s court filings, the three-member MIDDD board is refusing to pursue the claims against Macomb County, even though the county may have substantial liability insurance that covers some or all of the repair costs.
“It is in the interest of all Macomb County taxpayers that available insurance cover as much as possible of the $70 million in repair costs. We are at a loss to understand why Macomb County wants to prevent this,” said Sterling Heights Mayor Michael C. Taylor.
Nevertheless, the MIDDD board has filed a motion in court to block the City from obtaining information about the County’s insurance policies, further highlighting the board’s conflicted interests. Sterling Heights is fighting to get these insurance policies that the public has paid for. The City has asked Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Faunce to order that they be produced.
Former Public Works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco and his chief deputy William Misterovich, via the Macomb County Wastewater Disposal District, signed a formal agreement in 2010 in which the county assumed full responsibility for inspection and repair of the sewer interceptor. Over the next six years, the County then billed millions of dollars to the 11 Macomb County communities that make up the MIDDD for the cost of inspection and repair that never took place.
“Somebody has to stand up and fight to protect the innocent rate payers and businesses in the MIDDD,” said Taylor. “Innocent rate payers should not be forced to pay for repairs when Macomb Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller has said publicly there were no inspections, no maintenance and no repairs made under the prior administration.”
The City’s filing today adds numerous additional claims. In addition, the City is asking the court to appoint an independent receiver to pursue the $70 million damage claim against Macomb County or permit the City to pursue them on behalf of the MIDDD. The City is not seeking monetary damages from the current MIDDD board members.
“We don’t like taking this action, but Macomb County needs to accept its responsibility for the $70 Million sewer collapse and sinkhole it caused by ignoring its contractual obligation to inspect and repair the sewer interceptor,” said Taylor. “The City intends to pay its full share of the $70 million repair cost pending the resolution of this lawsuit against the County. Nothing in the expanded lawsuit diminishes the fine job that Candice Miller and her team have done to repair the sewer collapse and sinkhole that happened one week before she took office.
“This is about good government, and Macomb County has failed us. Good government requires that Macomb County honor its contractual obligations.”