Commission places road millage on ballot

By: Robert Guttersohn | Royal Oak Review | Published July 28, 2014

ROYAL OAK — Come Nov. 4, residents will be asked to approve a 10-year millage to pay for repairs to the city’s roads.

If approved, the city would be authorized to levy up to 2.5 mills, and if the entire authorized amount were to be levied, the city estimates it would raise more than $5 million annually.

The vote was 5-2. Mayor Pro Tem David Poulton and Commissioner Peggy Goodwin voted no, saying the city should wait until the state Legislature reconvenes in August to see if it will pass a bill increasing funding for road repairs.

“I’d like to first see what the state comes up with in the fall and then move forward with our own local plan,” Goodwin said.

Mayor Jim Ellison said Royal Oak has been waiting for more than a year to hear what state lawmakers will do with funding roads.

“If anything is going to get done, we need to do it ourselves,” Ellison said. “Let’s take ownership of our streets.”

City Manager Don Johnson said that if voters approve the road millage and then Lansing increases funding for roads, the city does not have to levy the full amount. He said every year when the commission finalizes the budget, it would determine the millage amount.

“You don’t have to levy all of it,” Johnson said. “You don’t have to levy any of it.”

Residents at the meeting spoke out in favor of repairing the city’s roads but said it must be done in a way that makes the repairs last.

“Obviously, we need it,” said resident Tim Evans. “The roads are deteriorating really badly, but to throw good money after bad is a waste of time and a waste of money.”

An audit of the city’s roads last year concluded that they were below average. Johnson said the goal of the road millage is to get them back above average.

The city has not presented a schedule of road repairs if the road millage were to pass, but Ellison said it would be essential to do so before the election.

Residents “need to know what they’re getting,” Ellison said. “They need to know what the plan is.”