Isabella County files lawsuit seeking $600,000 from Union Township's Downtown Development Authority

Isabella County officials have filed a lawsuit against Union Township to get back unused funds from the East Downtown Development Authority.

Citing statutory and township ordinance requirements, attorneys representing Isabella County want the EDDA to return the more than $600,000 it claims would have been returned if it did not exist.

Isabella County Attorney Sherry L. Katz-Hedrington said the township’s EDDA does not conform to the state law that created such entities.

She said Isabella County has tried multiple times to reach an agreement with EDDA without success.

“There have been ongoing discussions over a number of years that just were not productive,” Katz-Hedrington said. “They had tried to reach an agreement but were not able to reach an agreement, so they had to legally file suit to return that money.”

If returned, the funds will go into the community, she said.

"(Money) would be returned to the county to be used for services, such as police services and services that would be beneficial to the tax payers,” she said.

Union Township created the EDDA in 1985 to divert property tax money otherwise intended for county operations, a public transportation system, the commission on aging, a medical care facility and a public library.

The EDDA district runs roughly one-half mile north and south of Pickard Road from the Mount Pleasant city limit east to Summerton Road, Isabella County Administrator Timothy Dolehanty said in a news release. Retail businesses such as Home Depot, the Hampton Inn and Wendel’s Furniture are located in the district.

From 2009 to 2010, EDDA boundaries increased by 29 percent and another eight percent from 2010 to 2011.

“That is a clear indication that property values continue to increase in the district,” Dolehanty said.

A study of more than 100 randomly selected parcels found none within the district boundaries had diminished in value since 1991.

Attorney Timothy Curtiss said the matter is now in the hands of the court system and denied comment other than to say the defense has filed its response.

“We’re going to back them,” he said. “We believe it’s without merit.”

The suit was filed in Isabella County Trial Court Jan. 18 and was answered by Union Township Feb. 7.

A court date has not been set.

Union Township Supervisor John Barker was unavailable before press time.


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