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County seeking millage support (From the May 14th 2014 Edition of the County Press

County seeking millage support

1.85 mill for roads may be on fall ballot
BY PHIL FOLEY
810-452-2616 • pfoley@mihomepaper.com

ALMONT TWP. — Almont Township trustees voted unanimously Monday night to support theLapeer County Road Commission’s plans to ask county voters this fall for a 1.85-mill tax to support road repairs.

Ric Pearson, managing director of the Lapeer County Road Commission, said road commission staff and board members began rolling out their plans to township boards May 5, starting with the North BranchTownship Board. So far, he said, trustees in Elba and Rich Township tabled their request until their June meeting and trustees at Almont, Attica, Deerfield, Mayfield, North Branch and Rich townships have all supported asking their voters to decide on the proposed road millage.

“We’re just asking them to put it on the ballot,” Pearson said.

Last year, he said, the road commission had a list of road repairs totaling $34 million and just $3 million budgeted for heavy maintenance. He said if voters approve the millage request, it would boost the road commission’s repair budget to $6 million annually.

It would also provide the county’s 18 townships with $1.1 million annually for road projects and the county’s 10 villages and cities with nearly $900,000 annually, based on 2013 property tax collections

Road Commissioner Dale Duckert told Almont Township trustees Monday night that the county’s villages and cities would keep the full 1.85-mill tax collected in their jurisdictions for road work and the road commission would turn over a half-mill to the townships for road work.

According to Trulia.com, the median listing price for a home in Lapeer is $119,900 and the median listing in theMetamora area is $224,900. The proposed tax would cost the owner of a median home in Lapeer $110.90 annually and the owner of a median priced home in the Metamora area $208.03 annually.

With the average cost of car tires at $58 and truck tires around $100, Pearson said bad roads can eat that up in a hurry.

According to statistics kept by the University of Michigan’s Transport Research Institute, the average car’s fuel consumption dropped 17 percent between 2007 and 2013. Pearson noted that since he joined the road commission 28 years ago, “I’ve seen one funding increase at the state level.” He said the state increased gas taxes 3 cents in 1997, reserving one penny of that for bridge repairs.

Pearson noted in recent years electric and hybrid vehicles have been introduced to the state’s highways, cutting into highway funding even farther.

“Something’s got to happen,” he said.

Pearson said his agency hopes to meet with every local government unit by the end of the month. He said he planned to meet with Goodland and Burlington township officials Tuesday night, while Ryan Doyle, the county’s highway engineer was headed to Hadley and Oregon Township.

He said he plans to go to the Lapeer County Commission next month to get ballot language approved that would seek 1.85 mills from county voters for the next six years.

Huron, TuscolaSanilac and St. Clair counties all levy road millages, adding 22 of the state’s 83 counties have road millages.

“If we don’t see a funding change we are going to continue to fall behind,” Pearson said, noting that some counties have already taken a step backward and ground some paved roads back to gravel.

“We’re giving people a chance to decide if they want to fund better roads,” he said.

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