Not so fast: Manistee board’s vote blocks Kalkaska from leaving inspection program

Dennis Mansfield, Contributing Writer

KALKASKA – A vote by the Manistee County Board of Commissioners at its meeting Tuesday, Oct. 22, now has its Kalkaska County counterpart looking for other options on how it might exit from a point-of-sale septic inspection program.

The Manistee County Board voted overwhelmingly, 5-1, against Kalkaska County’s request to end its participation in a point-of-sale septic inspection program run through the District Health Department No. 10.

According to an agreement between the 10 participating counties, each member must agree to any changes in status for another member to institute changes or withdrawal from the program. Kalkaska County commissioners had previously voiced their approval to new guidelines requested by Manistee County to strengthen the inspection program by removing various exemptions, as well as extending the validity of any inspection from 2 to 3 years.

Meanwhile, Kalkaska County board members were seeking to end the county’s participation in the inspection process, citing inflated inspection fees that can run as high as $1,000 and contained no real mandate for a property owner to make necessary changes before selling their property. Instead, local commissioners promoted the idea that townships be allowed to create and oversee similar programs that would have more “teeth.”

Without Manistee County returning the favor, however, District No. 3 Commissioner Kohn Fisher, chairman of the Kalkaska County board, said local officials will have to look at other ways to exit the program.

“We’ll review it,” Fisher said of Tuesday’s vote. “I don’t know what the conversation was like.

“We’ve asked to get out,” he added. “We have eight of the nine total counties who’ve said that’s OK with them. One county is holding it up.”

News reports state that Manistee County officials voted to keep Kalkaska County in the fold, since the two share a common watershed and the Manistee River, fearing a lack oversight in one county might allow for contamination in the other.

“It’s their prerogative to do that,” Fisher said. “The agreement allows it.

“That’s a disappointment to some people who were hoping for some relief from the program. I’m sure some of the people are happy now that we have to continue with it,” he added. (But) we have some other options the board may pursue.”

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