No one wants to pay higher taxes, but if I must pay higher taxes it is preferred to be funding a local need. This way if things don’t work out the Local Representation can be called on the rug. If you live in Grant Township you can drive less than 4 miles to the Township Hall. Lets go right to the topic of roads and our local plight. In our previous articles I pointed out briefly how property tax distribution occurs and revenues distribution from gasoline taxes, vehicle registration fees. As pointed out the money pot for transportation infrastructure is getting smaller and the costs are moving higher, this is not a good combination.
Grant Township in cooperation with the Clare County Road Commission commissioned a study of our road system within the Township completed in August 2012. The report basically revealed that to wait would be costly and eventually lead to a less desirable outcome. In the analysis the road systems were graded using a number scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the worst and 10 the best. Our numbers are falling faster than funding can keep up and therefore deterioration will overcome the efforts.
What has caused this problem? It’s quite simple, for many years up to about 2006 the Township saved money and contributed to road projects with a match of funds from the Clare County Road Commission. Many pavement projects were also completed using special assessments with matching from the Road Commission. The matching funds from the Clare County Road Commission have effectively ended. Please see our previous article which details reductions in revenues from transportation fees, taxes and distribution.
The Township as a result delayed any further Road Projects due to lack of matching money for several years. Time was not on our side, weather, traffic conditions etc. have caused deterioration which will be costly to reverse. Creating new paved surfaces or converting gravel to paved roads has ended, the struggle will be to keep our paved surface roads from being returned to gravel or deteriorating to a very low grade surface.
Our spring 2014 revision of costs are: 2012 yearly estimated costs were $432,300 in 2014 the estimated annual costs are $413,700. The reduction is due to the Township funding of repairs and preventative maintenance of $334,800 in 2013, anticipating $220,000 being allocated in 2014. Township General Fund allocations in future years will be less and may only average less than $50,000. Where does that leave our present deteriorating surfaces? Things will only get worse without an infusion of revenues, where will the money come from?
Don’t hold out hope the State of Michigan will swoop in and rescue local units, all current state proposals will raise taxes or fees, maybe both. But be assured such increased revenues will be distributed under the current formula, this leaves local Road Commissions with little to distribute to our local road system.
There is only one answer to the questions above; local taxes will need to generate revenues needed. Not a good answer, but remember we closed our last article with the phrase “its not a good picture but we will hang it on the wall for everyone to see”. Failure to address the issue now will cost substantially more in the future. The Grant Township Board feels this is a very important decision and one only the voters can make.