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Frequently Asked Questions
Assessing
Why does the assessed value change from year to year?
The assessed value must reflect 50% of market value. As market value changes, so does your assessment. For instance, if you add a garage to your home, the assessed value increases. However should your property be permanently damaged by fire, the assessed value would decrease. Property owners have a responsibility for reporting any changes made to their property that would affect its value. When you obtain a building permit, our office is notified by the Building Department.

 
Why do assessments go up when a property has not changes?
Market value is a product of the price paid for the property. Since assessments must be set by market value, changing real estate values in the community will be reflected in the assessments. As prices increase/decrease, so does market value. All property values do not change to the same degree. Many factors influence values. Properties with water or scenic views, for example, may increase more rapidly than others.
 
What is taxable value?
The taxable value was created upon the passage of Proposal A, by the electorate in 1994. The taxable value is the lower of the State Equalized Value or the capped value. This is the value used times the millage rate that produces the amount of taxes levied against the property.  However, the year following a transfer of ownership, a property is uncapped and the taxable value becomes the same as the assessed value.  Following the uncapping, the property’s taxable value will follow the capped value formula.
 
What is the capped value?
The taxable value can increase from year to year by 5.0% or the amount of the Inflation Rate (IRM), whichever is less. Additions or losses to the property are also taken into consideration. The formula is the previous taxable value, minus losses, x 1.05% or the IRM, whichever is less, plus any additions = capped value.
 
If I am unhappy with the assessed value or taxable value, what can I do about it?
The first thing you should do is talk to your local Assessor about the valuation on your parcel. Check the appraisal records to make sure all components of the property are correct. If you wish to proceed at this point, you must make an appointment with the March Board of Review to lodge an appeal. The Board of Review is set up under the Michigan General Property Tax Law. The three member board is appointed by the Township Supervisor and approved at a public meeting by the Board of Trustees. The Board of Review will hear your appeal and will make a decision using their best judgment.
 
I will be out of town during the March Board of Review, how can I lodge an appeal?
You may send a personal representative or a letter of explanation. Please include the reason for appealing your assessed value, the parcel identification number, your address and telephone number. The Board of Review will make a decision and notify you by first class mail.
 
What if I am not satisfied with the Board of Review decision on my appeal?
You have the right to file an appeal with the Michigan Tax Tribunal. This appeal must be filed with the Tribunal on or before June 30, of the current year.
 
Am I allowed to view my appraisal records?
Yes! Most departmental records are considered public record and are open for inspection during Normal business hours.
 
Environmental Issues
What is stormwater?
Stormwater is generated by rainwater and snowmelt runoff from streets, parking lots, building rooftops, lawns, farms, construction sites, industrial sites and many other aspects of the landscape.  This runoff picks up fertilizers, dirt, pesticides, oil and grease, and many other pollutants on the way to our rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.  Stormwater runoff is our most common cause of water pollution.
 
What is a watershed?
A watershed is an area of land that drains into a common body of water.  White Lake Township lies mostly within the Huron River Watershed with the exception of a few acres in the northeast portion of the Township that are tributary to the Clinton River.
 
Why is erosion and sediment control important?
Sediment is the great pollutant by volume impacting our lakes, streams and wetlands.  Sediment is the product of uncontrolled erosion.  Everyone in Michigan is impacted by erosion and off-site sedimentation.  Erosion and sedimentation results in:
*Loss of fertile topsoil
*Filling of lakes and streams
*Increased flooding
*Damage to plant and animal life
*Structural damage to buildings and roads
 
Why are wetlands important?
Wetlands contribute to the national economy by producing resources and commodities along with other benefits.  Because of the diversity of wetland types and locations, measuring all the benefits would be difficult.  However, here are some reasons why wetlands are important:
*Wetlands are spawning and nursery ares, providing plant food for fish
*Wetlands improve our water quality, by removing toxic substances and sediment while filtering excess nutrients
*Wetlands help to control floods by storing water
*Wetlands provide recreational opportunities, such as hunting, fishing, bird watching and photography
 
Planning
I came home from work today and there are several stakes with colored ribbons in place in my yard and/or th surrounding area.  What is the meaning of this?
A survey crew was sent to your vicinity for utility work or a neighbor needs to survey their own property.  The color of the ribbon depicts the utility.
 
Yellow - Oil & Gas
Orange - Phone & TV
Green - Storm Drain
Purple - Surveying
  Blue - Water
Red - Electric
Brown - Sewer
                          

Utility and survey companies are not required to notify the township not the homeowner when they come out to your area. Thus, we here at the Township may not know the purpose or reason for the flags. You can call Miss Dig at 1-800-482-7171 to find out what is going on.
 
What are the requirements for owning a horse?
Your property must be zoned Agricultural (AG) or Suburban Farms (SF) and have a minimum of 2 acres. If you meet these requirements, than it's two horses for the first two acres and 1 horse per acre afterwords.
 
Do I need a permit to cut down trees?
Since the township does not have a woodland ordinance, you do not need a permit.  Although, if the trees are located in a regulated wetland, you may need a permit from the township and/or the DEQ.  For further information, please call our environmentalist, Mike McAdams at 248-698-3300 ext 190.
 
A new project is being constructed near my home, would I be able to see the plans?
Yes.  When a developer of a commercial or residential project brings in his application, a file is created.  The file and all its contents are open to the public. This policy is the same for any Zoning Board of Appeals cases and rezoning files.
 
Why did I receive an agenda for a Zoning Board of Appeals or a Planning Commission meeting?
For all ZBA cases, rezonings, and special land uses, we are required to notify all homeowners and property owners that are within 300' of the property in question.  Rezoning and special land uses require a public hearing and are held at Planning Commission meetings.
 
The street that I live on is in need of repairs as there are several potholes.  Who do I call?
You would call the Road Commission. Their phone number is 248-858-4804.  If you live on a public road you can call the Road Commission and they will grant permission to form a special assissment district (SAD). In order to form a (SAD) on a private road, you can contact Jeanine Smith, Assessor, at 248-698-3300 ext 3.
 
Stormwater and Sewer
Where is it legal to discharge my sump pump?
Anywhere outside your home as long as the first place it hits the ground is at least 20 feet from the road to avoid icing in the winter. Underground connections into the storm drain (below the curb) requires a permit from the county.
 
Is the township responsible for repairing the sewer lines between the road and my house?
No. Our responsibility does not extend past the utility easement onto private property but we will assist you in determining if you have a leak in your line.
 
What is the difference between a sanitary sewer and a storm drain?
Sanitary sewers remove waste products from your home and send them underground to a treatment plant. Storm drains gather rain and storm runoff and direct them to wetlands and lakes.  Ditches and curb line grates are considered storm drains. Sanitary manholes have solid round covers.  The two systems are not connected in White Lake Township.
 
Can I pay my sewer bill at White Lake Township?
To pay your invoice online visit https://www.oakgov.com/water.
 
Can I pay my sewer bill online, by credit card or automatic deduction?
Oakland County water resource accepts checks and money orders in person or through the mail, cash in person only.  Visa and MasterCard payments can be made online with no fee at the water resource center.  You can have your sewer bill automatically paid from your checking or savings account.  Just print out page one of this form, complete it and return to the Water Resources Commissioner's office.  If you have more than one account, list additional accounts on page two.
 
What are the hours of operation for the Oakland County billing department?
The expanded hours of operation are 7:30 am and 6:00 pm Monday thru Friday.
 
Can I get a separate meter for my irrigation system?
White Lake Township does not offer separate meters for residential customers at this time.
 
Do I have to connect to sewer if it is near my property?
If available, sewer is defined as one within 200' of the subject structure, per ordinance 108 the house, building or structure must connect to the sewer line/system.
 
Can I hire the contractor for sewer installation?
In order to maintain the integrity of the sewer system, White Lake hires the contractor for pressure sewer installation and grinder pumps. However, if it is a gravity sewer extention the resident/owner is permitted to hire their own contractor.
 
What is stormwater?
Stormwater is generated by rainwater and snowmelt runoff from streets, parking lots, building rooftops, lawns, farms, construction sites, industrial sites and many other aspects of the landscape. This runoff picks up fertilizers, dirt, pesticides, oil and grease, and many other pollutants on the way to our rivers, lakes, and coastal waters. Stormwater runoff is our most common cause of water pollution.
 
What is a pressure sewer and how does it work?
A pressure sewer system consists of lateral sewers which operate under pressure and grinder pumps at each building which pump sanitary waste into the sewers.  The sewers are usually 2” to 6” in diameter and are around 6 feet deep.  A grinder pump grinds any solids in the waste water, directs the waste water under pressure to the public sewer, and check valves prevent the waste water under pressure from backing up into your home.
 
Why a pressure sewer?
A pressure sewer is an alternate to a gravity sewer.  For the following reasons, pressure sewers usually are found to be the most appropriate for existing neighborhoods:
1.  Pressure sewers can be installed with very little disruption to the neighborhood.  In most cases, they are installed by the directional bore method which required little excavation.  Gravity sewers, on the other hand, require extensive excavation and thus cause much more damage to the streets and landscaping.  Streets must be re-paved after a gravity sewer is installed.
2.  The cost of a pressure sewer can be less than the cost of gravity sewer due to lesser restoration costs that would have otherwise been expended with the installation of gravity sewer.
 
Who installs and maintains the grinder pump stations?
White Lake Township currently contracts with Contractor for the installation of all grinder pumps.  The Water Resources Commission maintains all the grinder pumps for White Lake Township once they are installed.
 
How dependable are the grinder pumps?
Grinder pumps have been used for over 25 years, with the average required service call being approximately once every seven years.
 
What maintenance costs are associated with pressure sewer?
Sewer is charged quarterly in White Lake Township, for both gravity and pressure.  The Water Resources Commission handles all billing for the Township.  Please contact Water Resources Commission for current rates (248) 858-1110 or White Lake Township Water & Sewer Department (248) 698-3300 extension 8.The only extra cost for pressure sewer is for the electricity to operate the pump.
 
What happens if there is a power failure?
If there is a power failure, then water should be used sparingly.  There will be some storage in the pump tank (30-60 gallons) so some water can be used.  However, most water usage, such as a shower and washing clothes, should cease.  Residents that have well water are not as affected since without power, well pumps are also not operational.  Experience has found that power failures have not been a significant source of complaints by users.
 
What happens if the grinder pump fails?
In the event that a grinder pump fails, an alarm on the control box sounds an audible alarm as well as a flashing light.  The audible alarm can be turned off by a switch on the box, but the light continues to flash.  The homeowner can then call the Water Resources Commission for repairs.
 
What happens if the sewer main breaks?
The sewer system is designed with a series of valves which allow for breaks in the system to be isolated.  Depending on the location of the break, only a small percentage of the residence will be affected.  Once a break is discovered, the Oakland County Water Resources Commission will come out and excavate around the break and repair it.
 

Water
Is there fluoride in the water?
Yes, the fluoride level is 0.2 - 0.3 (ppm) parts per million but it is only the fluoride that is naturally occurring.  Fluoride is not added to the water.
 
What is the hardness of the water?
Hardness is 18 grains or 119-380 ppm.
 
What is the iron level of the water?
Iron is 0.4-2.0 ppm.
 
Does White Lake Township's water have an iron filtration system?
Not at this time.
 
Is a water softener recommended?
It is a preference.  However, most of White Lake Township's water users have water softeners.  Also, some water customers have alternative water treatment systems.
 
What capacity water softener do you recommend?
A water softener with a capacity of 35,000 grains.
 
What is the ISO rating (Township Fire Hydrant), rating in White Lake Township?
Effective April 1, 2004 the Insurance Service Office, Inc. (ISO) rating changed from 8 to 6.
 
If i am closing on my house or moving, how do I get my final water bill?
Call the Water Department at 248-698-3300 x 8.  We will calculate your final water bill.  You may pick it up Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. or we can email or fax it.
 
Can I pay my water bill over the phone with a charge card or electronically?
Not at this time, though we are hoping sometime in the near future.
 
Is the orange/brown water that comes from the hydrant flushing the same water I am drinking?  Is it safe to drink?
Yes, it is the same water you drink.  We recommend notifying the water department and running all your sink fixtures to clean out your service lead.
 
What causes my water to be cloudy or milky?
Air in the lines can cause cloudy or milky lines.  It can occur when valves are turned on/off to work on water mains.  Extreme amounts of air can cause vibration or banging noises in your pipes.  Sometimes the air can be eliminated by running a faucet on the top floor of your home.  If the problem persist, please contact the Water Department.
 
Why is my water brown or dirty looking?
When we turn water off to make a repair, it can stir up the mineral content that has settled to the bottom of the water main.  You do NOT need to boil your water.  Run the cold water until it clears.  Using hot water before you have cleared the cold water will draw the dirty water into your hot water heater.  We will announce via radio, television and newspaper in the unfortunate event that you ever need to boil your water.
 
Why do you flush hydrants?
To improve water quality and check fire hydrant operations.
 
What is the purpose or benefit of an accurate water consumption reading?
1.  To ensure that everyone is billed fairly for the water actually used.
2.  To ensure that the cost of producing water is recovered.
3.  To help identify areas in the system, houses or businesses that may have a leak.
 
Who is responsible for the inside water meter?
The White Lake Township Water Department is responsible for the maintenance of the water meter only.  The valves on both sides of the meter that turn the water on and off are the responsibility of the customer to be sure they are in good working order.  If the water meter develops a leak, the water department will come out and repair or replace the meter at no charge to the customer.

If a leak should develop, turn the valve off located before the meter and call the water department at 248-698--63300 ext. 8.
 
When leaving on a long vacation, should I have my water turned off?
If leaving for an extended period of time, it is a good idea to have your water turned off at the meter.  If there is a water line break or major leak, this can be avoided when there is no one to monitor the facilities by having the water turned off.  We have found this is a good way to avoid risk.  In addition, if there was to be a leak, the water department is bound to charge the customer because the water was actually used and to defer to cost upon other customers is not reasonable.  Therefore, having the water shut off prior to an extended period away from the residence provides the customer with less risk.
 
Should a customer give prior notice to the Water Department when having the water turned off?
Customers are strongly encouraged to give the Water Department 24 to 48 hour notice prior to having their water turned on/off, so that the service can be arranged during regular work hours.  Otherwise a fee of $25 may apply.
 
What is the water turn on/off charge?
There is no charge to have your water turned on or off when the customer is having maintenance conducted on their plumbing and the water department is given 24 to 48 hours notice, so the water can be turned off/on during regular working hours.
 
How much is the charge for water to be turned on/off after working hours?
$50 service fee will apply in order to re-coup costs for personnel to be called in to perform service.
 
Can I use the water from a fire hydrant?  If so, how do I go about that?
Can I use the water from a fire hydrant?  DO NOT attempt to open a fire hydrant.  Special tools and equipment are necessary to properly distribute water.  A deposit of $500 for non-customers plus a hydrant permit is mandatory.  The water usage rate is $100 for the first 1,100 cubic feet and $1.32 for each 100 cubic feet.  The charge is per season and not to exceed 60 days.