By Sterling McGinn

Pentland Township is working to secure financing with the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) for their sewer lagoon project. An update on the lagoon project and other sewer matters were discussed at the June 11 meeting of the Pentland Township Board.

The township is applying for a USDA loan for the construction of the lagoon system, where the township’s wastewater will be disposed. Township Clerk Greg Rathje said that he and Jeff Mudroch, the engineer for the lagoon, had their first meeting with the USDA the first part of June with another meeting scheduled for this week to discuss the environmental survey. Rathje will have a report for the board next month.

As part of the final court order, The Village of Newberry will continue to service the township at a cost of $6,600 per month ending December 31, 2026, when Pentland expects to have their lagoon system completed. However, if the system is completed prior to the latter date, Pentland’s monthly payments will end, and payment for final month will be prorated.

Last August, Pentland Township purchased a 40-acre parcel on County Road 457 near the curve next to Newman Road. The township plans to build their lagoon system there, consisting of two or three small ponds where sewage from township costumers is broken down by sunlight, wind, and algae.

The board also approved that evening a small sewer rate increase of about $2.30 per month to assist the sewer fund in paying back the loan from the general fund from the village settlement. An average family that uses less than 4,000 gallons of water per month would see their total bill increase from $75.00 to $77.30.

“I think this is a reasonable rate hike going forward,” said township auditor Mike Grentz.

In other business, Rathje discussed the Newberry Village’s role in administering the Newberry Fire Department. The Newberry News reported in its June 5 issue that townships, not villages, are required by law to provide fire services, as stated during the council meeting.

“Townships are not required to provide fire service, neither are cities, villages or counties—no unit of government is required to provide fire service,” Rathje said. “It is just common sense that every community wants to have fire service, but it is up to that community to sort out which government is going to take the lead.”

Rathje contacted township attorney Craig Rolfe and an attorney for the Michigan Township Association. Both attorneys agreed that statement of townships being required to provided fire service is not accurate.