Last week, Barry County Commissioners narrowly approved a review of the 10-year old TOST program. Tuesday, commissioners heard two views of the subject in public comment.
TOST, which stands for “Time of Sale or Transfer,” is a Barry Eaton District Health Department regulation that calls for a department-certified evaluator to inspect on-site water and septic systems at the time of sale or transfer of property in Eaton and Barry counties. The department orders corrections or replacement if a system is deemed failing, and systems out of compliance must be repaired or replaced before the sale can be completed.
Larry Bass, resident of Carlton Township, said the county commission did not consider withdrawing from TOST last year, citing excessive cost to taxpayers for legal counsel. “Just his year, the rural taxpayers of Barry County have endured 394 TOST evaluations at a cost of approximately $160,000.
"Since the regulation was adopted, there have been 5,700 evaluations at a cost of approximately $2 million to the rural taxpayers. There doesn’t seem to be the same concern when the fees or taxes are paid directly by the property owners,” he said.
Noting Barry County already had a Sanitary and Nuisance codes in place before TOST, he said, “there is absolutely no evidence that the quality of drinking water has improved in Barry County since the inception of TOST.”
He suggested that the county, “is capable and has the ability to tell the health district that we will no longer participate in TOST…even though 70 percent of the county is rural and primarily served by on-site systems, we are in a minority in representation on the board of commissioners, and especially the health board. It is time we were given our due.”
Former Commissioner Jim Dull lauded Commissioner Ben Geiger for urging an open forum for public opinion, but he maintained that the since the health department gets paid for the TOST program, they should pay the anticipated $6,500 cost of the review.
Hastings Township Supervisor Jim Brown urged the commissioners "to be very careful not to throw the baby out with the wash water....keep the good parts and throw out the bad parts."
In other business, the commissioners:
* approved an excess spending authorization to allow spending more than $10,000 in one year for dredging at Crystal Lake Dam. The Barry County Drain Commission will spend $14,200 to dredge 300 yards of sand this year.
* authorized the drain commission to borrow $100,000 to pay for emergency repairs and other preliminary expenses of the Gun Lake Dam, to be paid back through a special assessment that will be set up to pay for the replacement of the dam.
* approved Commissioner David Jackson as officer delegate and Commissioner Ben Geiger alternate and Karen Barnes as employee delegate and Julie Ingle as alternate.
to attend the annual Municipal Employee Retirement System meeting Sept. 21-22 in Detroit.