Road Millage Discussed, But Action Postponed

At their Oct. 5, 2011 meeting, Washtenaw County commissioners held an extensive discussion about a proposed tax for road repairs, but ultimately postponed action until their Dec. 7 meeting. It’s also been added as a topic for their Oct. 6 working session, which starts at 6:30 p.m. Representatives from the county road commission, which made the proposal, are expected to attend.

At issue is whether the county board should levy an 0.6 mill tax, which is now estimated to raise $8.7 million for a raft of road improvement projects countywide. Road commissioners believe the millage could be levied under Public Act 283 of 1909. Because that act pre-dates the state’s Headlee Amendment, it could be levied by the board and would not require voter approval. The topic was previously discussed at a Sept. 8 working session of the board. On Sept. 23 the road commission formally submitted its plan to the county clerk’s office outlining road improvements it would make with millage proceeds.

At Wednesday’s board meeting, commissioner Rob Turner (R-District 1) acknowledged that road repairs are needed, but he objected to levying a tax without voter approval. He moved to indefinitely postpone action on the item. The motion was rejected on a 3-7 vote, with support only from Turner, Barbara Bergman (D-District 8) and Conan Smith (D-District 10). Leah Gunn (D-District 9) was absent.

Dan Smith (R-District 2) then moved to postpone action until the board’s Dec. 7 meeting, with the intent of holding a working session on the issue at some point before then. That motion passed on a 9-1 vote, with dissent from Alicia Ping (R-District 3).

The board has several options in considering the proposed road millage. County commissioners could approve the plan and levy the millage in its entirety, or reject it completely. They could also approve a portion of the projects, and levy a lower amount to cover the costs of those projects, or find another funding source. The board also has the option of putting a millage proposal on the ballot for voters to approve or reject.

This brief was filed soon shortly after adjournment of Wednesday’s board meeting. A more detailed report will follow: [link]