Road repair necessary, but don’t take more money from my wallet

April 25, 2014

MikeI really have mixed feelings about road millages that will appear on the ballot this year. Both Marion Township and Hamilton Township have already approved road improvement proposals for the May and August ballots. I would suspect a couple of other area municipalities like Grant Township will ask voters to approve monies to improve area roads as well.

I’m generally opposed to any new taxes. As a society I think we pay more than our fair share- particularly when you watch and hear and read about all the graft and greed that occurs frequently at the federal level of our government. Just couple that with a piss poor economy and a winter that saw most of us dump our savings into additional fuel costs, and I think taxpayers in this area are economically challenged in 2014.
Sue Addison, a property owner in Hamilton Township, has a thought provoking letter, in this week’s REVIEW. That township is asking for a two mill increase earmarked to take care of the roads in that township. She says it is too big a burden for most taxpayers and that two things should happen before a tax is approved. First she says the township has no garbage pick-up because hefty fines were levied against Republic, the trash company, because their trucks exceed the winter weight limit. She says the fine money should be utilized for road repair.

Then she says, the Township should wait for the outcome of the natural gas processing facility that is seeking to locate in Hamilton. If they get permits and are allowed to build their facility, they, in her mind, should pay a large portion of road upkeep.

Those are a couple of very good suggestions in my opinion.

Probably more than most, I drive. I drive all over mid-Michigan and I cruise to the Detroit area once a week. I experience relatively good roads, and roads that aren’t any better than an ORV trail. Secondary roads in this area certainly could be improved, particularly after this harsh winter.
So, yes I’m all for spending money to improve our roads. But my inclination at this point is, you got enough of my tax money- let’s figure out how to funnel some of the money I’ve already given to townships so they can better maintain the roads we have.

I was enlightened by Grant Township Supervisor Dan Dysinger’s guest column in the Clare County REVIEW a few weeks ago. He provided a chart as to where our property tax monies went. His chart claimed that there were 12-14 categories that received property tax subsidies including schools, seniors, county transit, 911, garbage pick-up, fire, police, RESD, etc. Road maintenance was not one of those categories.

So essentially Grant Township taxpayers are subsidizing the Pere Marquette Library with $94,665.00 each year, but nada is being earmarked for roads. Another disparity in my opinion is nothing for roads but $117,438.00 of Grant Township taxpayer dollars go to support Mid-Michigan Community College. Now I know the library and community college taxes were voter approved and can’t be adjusted downward to provide monies for roads. You can’t dip from one pot to put in to another- at least not at the local level.

But something ought to be done at the State and Federal levels. A large portion of every gallon of gas we buy goes to the feds and state. Some of this money needs to be funneled back to improve local roads. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has an incredibly large budget. It seems to me they could allocate some of their monies to help local rural townships like Marion, Hamilton and Grant. I’m sure if you asked them they would say, “well, we are,” but I would have to answer “you aren’t doing enough.”

Many of our roads are in bad shape. A recent study by Bridge Magazine, indicated that 39.1% of the roads in Osceola County were rated “poor.” No doubt they do need “tender loving care.” But, do hard hit taxpayers like you and I need to reach into our pockets, again. I hope not. I think if we get creative, we can figure out how to get the money. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way!”

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