Washtenaw County Road Proposal Rejected

At its Dec. 7, 2011 meeting, the Washtenaw County board of commissioners voted to reject a proposal from the Washtenaw County road commission that included a variety of road improvement projects, and the possibility of a countywide millage to pay for them. [See Chronicle coverage: "County Board Poised to Reject Road Millage"]

The proposal had been discussed at length by the board in October, when commissioners ultimately decided to defer additional action until the Dec. 7 meeting. At a Nov. 29 agenda briefing, several commissioners had indicated that they didn’t support the proposal in part because of uncertainty related to pending state legislation that would, if passed, allow the county to take over operation of the road commission.

The board had initially discussed this issue at its Sept. 8 working session, and it was expected to be on the agenda for the Sept. 20 meeting. But it wasn’t until Sept. 23 that the road commission formally submitted its plan to the county clerk’s office outlining a set of possible road projects throughout the county, costing about $8.7 million. [.pdf of projects list and .pdf of map showing the location of the proposed projects]

The plan was then brought forward as an item of discussion at the board’s Oct. 5 meeting. However, no resolution related to the topic was proposed, and no member of the road commission attended that meeting. The following night, at an Oct. 6 working session, the issue was tackled yet again as the board met with Ken Schwartz, a former county commissioner who’s now one of three road commissioners, and Roy Townsend, the road commission’s director of engineering. Schwartz was instrumental in identifying a 1909 state law that would allow the county board to levy a millage for road repair without voter approval.

This brief was filed from the boardroom of the county administration building at 220 N. Main St. in Ann Arbor, where the board of commissioners holds its meetings. A more detailed report will follow: [link]