Grosse Pointe Farms may be seeking road millage

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published July 28, 2020

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GROSSE POINTE FARMS — After years of maintaining city streets using general fund revenue, Grosse Pointe Farms may ask voters for additional money to keep local roads from crumbling.

Farms City Manager Shane Reeside said he anticipates addressing the possibility of seeking a special road millage during the next Farms City Council meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 10. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, that meeting is likely to take place remotely using Zoom videoconferencing.

Although the city has long enjoyed a vigorous road program — even during the Great Recession, when many neighboring communities had to scale back or eliminate their programs — Reeside said the city’s engineers are concerned about trends in PASER ratings for road conditions. In the PASER system, streets are evaluated on a scale of one to 10, with good meaning a rating of eight to 10, fair meaning a rating of five to seven, and poor meaning a rating of one to four.

“We’re starting to see road conditions decline, and we’re expecting to see that continue over time” at the current funding level, Reeside said.

The worse roads become, the more extensive — and expensive — it becomes to restore them.

Another issue that has officials worried is what Reeside said is an anticipated reduction in state Act 51 funds because gas tax revenue is down considerably, thanks to high unemployment and more people working from home during the pandemic.

In the city’s 2020-21 budget — approved by the Farms City Council in May — there is $755,000 allocated toward roadwork, including resurfacing, patching and concrete repairs. However, as City Controller Debra Peck Lichtenberg noted in a presentation to the council, some of these projects are still to be determined, “pending revised Act 51 funding estimates.”

“Much of the local government revenue picture is up in the air right now,” Lichtenberg said by email. “We expect this to be a very fluid and dynamic budget, which will be monitored closely and amended throughout the coming year.”

During the Aug. 10 meeting, Reeside said, the city’s engineers will explain where the Farms is now and what needs to be done going forward to preserve the roads. Whether the city will need to seek a special millage, and the amount of that millage, will depend on those findings.

If they do seek a road millage, the Farms will become one of numerous communities in Michigan that have already done this, including Grosse Pointe City and Grosse Pointe Park.

“This is not atypical,” Reeside said. “We were able to delay having to do this, (but many of) our neighboring communities have had road millages for several years now.”

For an agenda or more information about the Aug. 10 meeting, visit the city’s website, www.grossepointefarms.org.

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