By CHARITY B. SMITH
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK — Residents attending a town hall meeting Sept. 15 received information on state roads in the city and the city’s request for a tax increase to repair roads.
The panel at the meeting consisted of Department of Public Services Director Matt Dohring, Finance Director and Interim City Administrator Bob Cady, Assistant City Administrator Mark Kibby, Rob Tolliver of the Buccilli Group, and members of the city’s newly chosen engineering firm CE Raines Co.
The meeting allowed residents to acquire information on the state of the roads in the city and the process and reasoning for the 1.9-mill tax increase request, which would increase the city’s operating millage from 10.6 to 12.5 mills. (The tax increase would be $95 annually for an owner of a $100,000 house.)
The increased portion of the mills collected will be dedicated to the sole purpose of reconstruction, resurfacing, and repairing, maintaining and improving streets for 10 years from Dec 1, 2015, through Nov. 30, 2024.
Many residents in attendance expressed concern about the possibility of throwing good money after bad and wondered how do they know for certain that the money collected will be put toward the expense indicated. The city receives $1.9 million a year from the Act 51 fund — which is essentially the state gas tax — to go toward road maintenance and repair costs.
The vast majority of this is spent on routine costs such as employee labor, pothole repairs, street sweeping and snow removal. Only $836,000 goes toward actual repairs and reconstruction.
“How are we going to be assured that the roads are going to be maintained?” resident Walter Danick said. “I mean, we are given a one-year warranty, on a 10-year millage, on a 30-year project.”
Resident Ray McGussie cited his concern that new roads don’t seem to last as long as roads put in during the 1940s and ’50s.
“Almost every single road put in in the last six years is failing,” he said. “Take a look at Park.”
Engineers attempted to assure residents that they would do a thorough job and sell the residents on the importance of passing this legislation.
Dohring stressed the importance of maintenance on the roads. He said the city was able to cut the its salt usage on the roads in half last year by plowing more and said he was looking into other methods for winter road safety instead of salt, such as beet juice and cheese brine.
Tolliver explained how the pavement surfacing evaluation and rating system was used to rate the city’s roads.
“You guys are at a critical point,” he said, and his point was illustrated with maps of the study that show the ratings of the roads. “The money that’s given for the roads, if you guys get the millage, is definitely a nice start towards fixing the roads.”
“We have done the best we can with what we have, and its not been good enough,” said Councilman Bob Keenan of the city’s efforts, which he explained were often due to lack of funding and staff.
The road millage will be voted upon in the Nov. 3 general election.
(Charity B. Smith can be reached at [email protected])