CCRC cuts, then restores some Grant road funds

May 16, 2019

By Pat Maurer

In a surprise move April 17, and despite the fact that the Clare County Road Commission is receiving additional Public Act 51 funds for the roads, the Clare County Road Commission voted unanimously to cut matching funds and in-kind support from Grant Township for this year and for 2020, saying the township receives a “disproportionate” amount of funding compared to the other Clare County Townships. The decision was based on a percentage study of road funding comparing other townships to Grant.

The 2019 funding was restored after a resolution passed at the township meeting was presented to the Road Commission at their meeting Wednesday morning.

Township Supervisor Dan Dysinger presented the resolution at the township meeting for the boards’ approval. It read in part:

“removing the in kind and match funding was based on erroneous, flawed information and…use of such flawed and erroneous information led to a hasty and unwise decision by the Board of the Clare County Road Commission affecting only Grant Township and
…an aggressive and successful program of public local road improvements within Grant Township has been in the public good and benefit for the past four years, and
…the County Board of Road Commission has acknowledged the public benefit of an annual increase in Public Act 51 funds which are to be used for the benefit of all public roadways in Clare County, and
…Grant Township will be prevented from receiving such partial benefit for local roads in 2019 and 2020 in an estimated amount exceeding $50,000 each year, and
…Therefore be it resolved the Grant Township Board formally requests that the Clare County Board of Road Commissioners reconsider and reverse the decision made on April 17, 2019 and restore in kind and matching funds for use in improvements on local public roads in Grant Township for the years 2019 and 2020.”

Supervisor Dan Dysinger took issue with the April 17th CCRC decision at the regular township meeting Tuesday evening, saying he protested to the CCRC that the “figures” their decision was based on were incorrect. “We found a number of errors in the CCRC calculations on the funding for Grant Township,” he said,” calling the township study “flawed.”

“This is not a near-term problem,” he said, but it will be a problem in the long-term.” He added that the CCRC Engineer Manager Depak Guptka was not aware of the Road Commission’s study. He noted that Grant Township was the only township in the county that had their funding cut.

“Why was our township singled out?” Township resident Bruce Tideman asked.

Treasurer Tammy Shea said “We have residents who are doing road maintenance.”

Trustee Marge Bell reported that Mr. Nevill and some other township residents were grading their own roads this spring. “They were in terrible shape,” she said.

“Our road improvements benefit everyone in the county, Shea said.
“According to our calculations,” Dysinger said, referring to the CCRC study, “Grant Township has paid 56 percent of road funding compared to 44 percent Road Commission funds.”

The loss to the budget for Grant Township roadwork is approximately $50,000 for each year, Dysinger said. He said he found out about the CCRC decision after making five revisions to this year’s road plans and, he asked them to reconsider the decision at a meeting May 1st. They did not reconsider the action then, but after the resolution was presented to them Wednesday morning, they voted unanimously to restore just the funding for 2019.

In 2014, Dysinger said Guptka had informed him that the townships would be required to provide funding for their local roads, but funding for primary roads would be the responsibility of the Road Commission.

The CCRC started offering match funding in 2015 that would assist in local road improvements. They would contribute $40,000 toward paving projects and $20,000 on gravel projects. Since that time, any one of the 16 townships has been eligible to receive the match funding for a road project of their choice – until this year when Grant Townships funding was cut off.

Clare County Road Commissioner Tim Haskin arrived at the Township meeting to answer questions about their board’s decision.

He said, “Many other townships have had also had their projects cut because the CCRC doesn’t have the manpower and equipment to do them,” adding, “It’s very difficult. We have to make some adjustments in in-kind projects.” He added, “Our revenues are outrunning our abilities.”

Dysinger agreed saying other township’s projects have been cut, but their funding hasn’t.

Haskin also admitted that there were errors on the spreadsheet (study) because some lines (figures) were not compiled in the final calculations.”
Township Treasurer Tammy Shea noted the study comparisons were not fair. “You are talking about townships who have no fund balance (to pay for any road projects).

Haskin added, “An enormous amount of money was spent in Grant Township.”

In a phone interview Wednesday, Dysinger said, “Since 2003, Grant Township has spent nearly $2 million from Township funds to repair local roads.” He added “From 2016 to 2018, we spent $1,044,000 of our own funds to upgrade the local roads.”

Township Resident Merle Harmon objected to “the way you (the CCRC) went about it.”

He said he said population and traffic flow should be considered (before funding is cut).

Clare City resident Al Demarest said to Haskin, “You dropped this (decision) on Grant Township with no warning. You people were challenged about what has been done and what you’re doing. They followed the rules …you changed the rules. They spent months planning (this year’s projects). The townships deserve more notice when you make this kind of decision.”
Haskin said he would like to have a meeting between the two boards in the near future.

After receiving the resolution at their Wednesday morning meeting the CCRC voted unanimously to reinstate Grant Township’s 2019 matching funds and in-kind support.

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