In last month’s article we broke the bad news about increased taxes to fund our road infrastructure problem. Also, the series of articles has outlined the ravages of inflation and declining revenues as a source of the money problem. We also covered improved infrastructure without building in sufficient financial safe guards to protect what we have.
This week we will cover how an increased property tax levy can save our local road system. As all past articles have been condensed and simplified we will continue to do so here. We acknowledge that pothole season hasn’t passed us yet and the long winter was devastating to local Road Commissions.
Last month we illustrated that our revised list of needs and costs for road maintenance were $413,700 over 9 years. We will use that as a base figure to work from and help to illustrate our funding dilemma. Grant Township currently can raise $95,300 for each mill levied; keeping this in mind we will calculate the following for funding purposes. Also, as described in previous articles the Township would likely have about $50,000 each year to use from General Fund Balances. This could not be guaranteed but it is possible, let’s just say +/- $10,000.
Any proposed millage levy will raise the following amounts based upon 2013 figures:
2 mills = $190,600 + $50,000 General Fund Allocation = $240,600
3 mills = $285,900 + $50,000 General Fund Allocation = $335,900
Using the estimated costs from the revised study 3 mills will still leave us short but will stem the tide of deterioration. 2 mills will not stem the tide of deterioration and let us still slip backwards. Possibly revising some of our project methods will reduce costs and still improve our road surfaces.
There are 70 miles of County Roads in Grant, 27 miles are gravel, the remaining are surfaced roadways. Grant Township has the largest percentage of paved roadways in Clare County. Of the 16 Townships in Clare County 8 have road millage, keep in mind that some Townships merely fund brining with the millage, due to a lower tax base and more gravel roads. Those that levy a millage are at 2 mills, our millage would need to be higher due to the larger percentage of paved roadways and resultant increased maintenance costs.
So there are the facts, what is the cost to do nothing? It begins a long downward trend in property values, homes will become more difficult to market, surfaced roadways will deteriorate to a substandard level. The worst situations would possibly lead to returning paved surfaces to gravel.
Last year the Michigan Townships Association estimated that waiting to fund the necessary repairs for the major roadways in Michigan increases costs by $100 million each year. In Grant Township the cost to wait or failure of financing maintenance and repairs will accelerate the financial need and likewise our infrastructure self-feeding decline.
This improvement program has something in it for everyone who travels in the Township. Whether you live on a gravel road or a paved surface, improvements for every mile of roadway are included. Many gravel roadways in the Township have not been improved for 40 or 50 years. Proper ditching, eliminating country curbs and surface drainage go a long way to make a bad gravel road better.
Looking the other way and ignoring the facts will make the cost prohibitive in the future. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, let’s put it another way, “pay me now or really pay me later”. We must leverage the time we have to prevent lower standards in the Grant Township Community.