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Saturday September 26, 2020
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Road Fix?

A county millage comes up for renewal.

by James Leonard

From the August, 2020 issue

Will voters support tax renewals during an economic collapse? That's the question on the August 4 ballot. The county road and parks commissions are asking residents to renew and restore the half-mill tax for roads and nonmotorized pathways they passed in 2016.

It costs $50 annually for a home with a taxable value of $100,000, and initially brought in $7 million a year. With rising property tax revenue from increased value and new construction, the renewal is projected to generate $8.9 million annually--if property values hold up through the recession.

The millage passed by more than two-to-one in 2016, and the county board of commissioners voted unanimously to put the renewal on the ballot--even Ann Arbor commissioner Andy LaBarre, who voted against it in 2016. "My fear then was that it would let Lansing off the hook" for its chronic underfunding of the state's roads, he explains.

"I will not tell you that a road millage is the highest and best use of a millage," LaBarre says. "But at the same time, I'm pragmatic enough to know folks are gonna support it." Board chair Jason Morgan also expects people "will support it because it's just a renewal of the existing funding."

There's a dedicated website (bit.ly/washtenawroadsandpathsmillage) that lists every proposed project's start date and cost--for instance, two miles of Geddes Rd. from Dixboro Rd. to Superior Rd. in Ann Arbor and Superior townships would be pulverized and paved in 2021 at a cost of $700,000. A link shows the work funded by the 2016 millage. "Voters can see exactly where their money is going," Morgan says.

If passed, the millage will send $4 million annually to the county road commission. Another $1.8 million would go to the parks commission to expand the Border-to-Border Trail and Connecting Communities Grants for local pathways.

The balance, about $3.1 million, would go to cities, villages, and townships to invest in their own roads and nonmotorized projects. That would be prorated based on the tax revenue each contributes. Ann Arbor, the biggest contributor, would get back $2.4 million annually.     (end of article)

[Originally published in August, 2020.]

 



 
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