2018-08-02 / Life in Leelanau

Half-mill again requested for roads

By Jen Murphy
of the Enterprise staff

THE COUNTY Road Commission allocates revenue from a millage specifically for winter snow plowing. THE COUNTY Road Commission allocates revenue from a millage specifically for winter snow plowing. Voters will be asked Tuesday to support renewal of a half-mill property tax sought by the Leelanau County Road Commission.

Revenue will help fund general operating expenses “to be incurred in maintenance and repair of roads and highways within the county of Leelanau,” according to the language to be included on the ballot.

“It supports mainly our improved maintenance,” said Leelanau County Road Commission vice chair John Popa. “A lot of that is the snow plowing. We plow on weekends, Saturdays and Sundays. It also includes night service in the wintertime — we plow all night on state highways and main trunk lines so when people want to go to work in the morning, then they can do that. The citizens appreciate that — that’s excellent service.”

Popa explained that the millage also helps to fund seal coating of county roads, an annual summertime project of the Road Commission.

“It’s like painting your house, or like putting new siding on,” he said in drawing an analogy. “We put on seal coat to extend the life of the roads — the millage supports that,” he said.

Popa said the tax’s revenue has allowed the Road Commission to stay ahead of maintenance projects.

“Our roads are in excellent shape, and if we didn’t have the millage we wouldn’t be able to do that.”

The millage has been renewed every other year since 1986. If renewed again, it will raise an estimated $1.3 million for road and highway maintenance in its first year.

The revenue amount represents about 18.7 percent of the Road Commission’s 2018 budget and will be distributed to the Leelanau County Road Commission and the villages of Empire, Northport and Suttons Bay.

“We really appreciate the support that our citizens give us,” Popa said. “We do it for only two years because it gives the citizens a chance to evaluate how we’ve been doing.”

The two largest sources of road funding in Michigan come from state vehicle registration fees and state-collected fuel taxes. Most counties in Michigan do not collect an extra-voted millage to augment their Road Commission budget.

Historically, Leelanau County voters have overwhelmingly approved the extra-voted millage to support the Road Commission, with more than 80-percent of voters marking “yes” on the ballot during Primary Elections every even-numbered year.

No organized group has registered with the county clerk to oppose the road tax.

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