Road money needed

Alex Doty • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:49 PM

The Ottawa County Road Commission has proposed a half-mill property tax to be placed on the November ballot. If voters approve the proposed measure, $50 million would be raised for road projects over the life of the 10-year millage — $5 million per year.

“Our revenue has really been stagnant, but our needs and costs keep rising,” Road Commission Managing Director Brett Laughlin said.

Road Commission officials say the state Legislature last increased the gasoline tax — a primary source of funding to maintain roads in Michigan — 17 years ago. It was increased from 15 to 19 cents per gallon in 1997.

“It’s apparent the Legislature has had difficulty addressing this issue in a timely manner,” Road Commission Finance Director Mike Mikita said.

Current revenues from the gas tax and vehicle registration fees have been generally just over $21 million for Ottawa County road agencies. It would take more than $250 million to get all the roads into “good” condition, and an additional $30 million per year to keep them in that condition, officials say.

The 0.5-mill levy would equate to $25 more per year in property tax for a home with a $50,000 taxable value. Of the $5 million raised by the levy each year, $4 million would go to the county’s townships and $1 million to cities for road improvements.

The road millage funds would only be spent on the reconstruction, resurfacing and maintenance of county roads — not administrative costs, new equipment or snow removal.

A July 22 public hearing is scheduled to gather input and determine if the issue will go to voters. The hearing will take place at a meeting of the county road commissioners.

Read the complete story in today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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