$50,000 for gravel roads

The township approved $50,000 for gravel to supplement county road repairs.
Independence Township Board voted 6-1 to approve the purchase. Trustee David Lohmeier was the lone “no” vote.
“I don’t like the condition of our roads, but we don’t collect taxes (at the township) to maintain the roads. It’s not our responsibility to do the basic maintenance,” Lohmeier said. “I know $50,000 is a lot higher percentage of our budget than it is the road commission’s and others. I just don’t think it’s appropriate.”
The extra gravel will go towards 4.80 miles of road, which include 1.69 miles of Hadley, .66 miles of Perry Lake, 1.02 miles of Shappie and 1.43 miles of Stickney, Sashabaw to Michigamme.
“You always hate spending township money when it comes to the county taking what’s supposed to be their responsibility,” said township Supervisor Pat Kittle. “But at the end of the day we got to do something because they don’t have enough and our residents deserve better in my opinion.”
The township has used taxpayer money to purchase extra gravel from Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) forthe township’s dirt roads for the past several years, Kittle said.
“Our dirt roads are a wreck this time of year, we’re not kidding anybody,” he said. “Although RCOC increased its 2016 budget in an attempt to repair potholes and grade dirt roads, their efforts are still insufficient to meet the needs of our community.”
Lohmeier said he spoke to Steve Printz, contract administrator for RCOC, and asked what RCOC would do as the roads get potholes and washboard. Lohmeier was told the roads would get graded.
“They’re not going to ignore complaints from residents as they get a lot of dangerous situations,” he said. “They’re going to go out and grade the road, what they’re not going to do is add material which is what we would be paying for here.”
“Quite frankly I think we’re enabling the wrong behavior by doing that. I think we let the residents continue to push the road commission to do what it’s supposed to do, that’s where the taxes are collected,” Lohmeier continued. “I would feel differently if we collected taxes for this and we’ve talked about road millages before, the problems with doing those. What we’re doing is taking money that was collected for one purpose and subsidizing a much larger budget. You just don’t get to the end result you want by covering up the problem.”
Kittle didn’t disagree with Lohmeier, but believes they will see a change in the RCOC business model when state funding for roads gets passed down.
“It’s going to take a couple years, when that $1.2 billion starts to trickle down and get down to the local level,” Kittle explained. “I think you’re going to see the business model change and you’re going to see a lot more cooperative effort being done. I think that will benefit everybody. That’s my opinion based on what I’m hearing and reading in the tea-leaves.”
Trustee Jose Aliaga asked if the county wasn’t collecting enough from the state for road repairs.
Trustee Andrea Schroeder said that they weren’t.
“I’m sure nobody at this table likes this idea and thinks this is the ideal thing,” she said. “But what we’re offering to do is actually add material so that it’s not just graded, but kept at a higher maintenance standard than just basic maintenance.”
Lohmeier said he also believes doing this puts townships in not as good of financial shape as Independence at a disadvantage and “is not exactly fair.”
“If I had an extra $50,000 to spare,” he said. “There are a lot better things I can do than buy (gravel).”