By Tran Longmoore, www.thesalinepost.com
Voters in the City of Saline may have a local question on the ballot in November. Would you add one-mill on your tax annual levy, $1 for every $1,000 in taxable value, to improve the roads in the City of Saline?
Saline City Council discussed the idea at its work meeting with Treasurer Mickie Jo Bennett and DPW Director Jeff Fordice, June 4.
According to Fordice, the condition of Saline’s roads is slightly above state average. Using the PASER, which rates roads from 1-10, Saline’s roads rate around 4.5. About 13 miles of road were assessed at the dismal rating of 2.
To address the issue, Mayor Brian Marl has a plan. He’s pitching a five-year, one-mill tax levy which would raise about $435,000 for roads. Along with $174,000 in money from the county road millage and about $200,000 in Act 51 money, the city would have about $800,000 a year to spend on roads.
According to figures provided to council by Fordice, it costs about $400,000 to maintain the city’s 4.5 PASER rating over the next 10 years. Fordice told council that $900,000 in annual investment would raise the PASER rating from 4.5 to 6.5 over 10 years. To dramatically improve the roads, or to raise the PASER rating to 7.6 by 2028, the city would need to invest $1.25 million a year.
Marl told council his plan improves the roads while remaining affordable for taxpayers.
“It does not get me to ‘dramatically improve’ the roads. But it gets us closer to ‘improving’ rather than maintaining,” Marl said.
In addition to the aforementioned revenue sources, the city could also access federal grants or use its fund balance when appropriate. Marl said there could be relief if the state government provides revenue for road maintenance.
“The current way we provide local services is not sustainable,” Marl said.
Improving the roads is at the top of many citizens’ wish list, according to Councillors Christen Mitchell and Janet Dillon.
Answering a question from Councillor Dean Girbach, Fordice said he thought the DPW has the manpower to handle the additional work with strategic use of consultants and contractors.
Marl said he envisioned a five-year millage. In five years’ time the city could re-examine revenue sources and infrastructure needs and request a smaller or larger millage.
Bennett said that if the state were to come through with local road dollars, the city could choose to assess a smaller millage.
City council will discuss the topic at its meeting June 18.
To put the question on the November ballot, the city needs to approve ballot language and resolution and submit it to the county by Aug. 14.