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Clinton Township officials look to state lawmakers for road funding

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published August 28, 2018

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Following a failed road millage proposal and decades of funding inequities, some Clinton Township officials have had enough.

On Aug. 20, Clinton Township Treasurer Paul Gieleghem and Trustees Jenifer “Joie” West and Mike Keys introduced a resolution urging the state to immediately begin work on fixing disproportionate road funding in relation to Public Act 51 — a formula created in 1951 that provides 39 percent of available funds to state roads, 39 percent to counties and 22 percent to cities and villages. Townships such as Clinton Township are relegated to only receiving county money.

Gieleghem said Michigan has underfunded its roads, as the gas tax and vehicle registrations are becoming more obsolete due to diminishing returns and a movement toward electric vehicles in the auto industry. Also, PA 51 is based on linear road miles versus lane miles, essentially reducing money in “older and developed communities” while there is no new steady stream of revenue helping to maintain the “vibrancy of neighborhoods.”

“Clinton Township, that is 95 percent developed, is in competition with all of the townships in the north,” he said. “All of that growth in the northern Macomb County communities and townships is a steady stream of new revenue coming in. They’re turning farm fields into subdivisions. There needs to be consideration given to communities like Clinton Township that have neighborhoods that are over 70 years old.”

Gieleghem believes change is realistic by the bipartisan conjoining of state lawmakers in the Legislature, essentially providing more funding options and making a play for “who’s going to lead the fight to represent a fair return on the dollars we send to Lansing.”

Copies of this particular resolution were planned to be sent to Gov. Rick Snyder, state legislators, Macomb County legislators, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and county commissioners.

Resident Bob Campbell, the former Clinton Township Road Committee chairperson, said Aug. 20 that he can’t disagree with the imbalances of PA 51, but he isn’t as confident as some board members on change at the state level.

“I don’t share much enthusiasm that we’ll get any meaningful action out of Lansing before the start of the next decade,” Campbell said. “Another important fact that the public needs to know, and the residents of the township need to clearly understand, (is) that the actions of the township — both public and private — are out of sync quite a bit with the rest of the state.”

Gieleghem noted that he voted against the road millage, which Campbell helped introduce to the public back in April, due to residents not knowing how their money would be utilized. As he put it, higher taxes don’t guarantee better roads.

“What I see is that, in Macomb County, personal income adjusted for inflation, from I believe 2003 to 2015, has dropped 17.7 percent,” Gieleghem said. “So, families are struggling. If I’m gonna ask them to increase their tax burden, I need to tell them what they’ll be getting for their dollars.”

The resolution was tabled at the Aug. 20 meeting and is expected to be part of the board’s Sept. 4 agenda.