By Lynne Beauchamp, firstname.lastname@example.org
The results of a township wide survey on Webster Township’s local gravel roads are in and were shared at the regular Webster Township board meeting on November 20.
The gravel road survey conducted by locals Susan Cooley, Karen Sikkenga and Toni Spears went out in the 2018 summer tax bill, a survey approved by the township board in April 2018. The purpose of the survey, according to Cooley, was to assess property owners’ support for local gravel road improvements and to educate the public.
Cooley said she was grateful for the number of respondents to the survey. Approximately 3000 surveys went out and 454 survey responses were received.
According to documents provided to the township board, of the responses received
- 252 agree and 198 disagree that gravel roads should be improved, and additional funding be considered. Four had no response but provided comments.
- 223 were willing to increase their annual funding. Amounts ranged from $10-$1000 with $100 being the most selected amount.
- 212 selected “$0” for an increase in funding and 19 did not respond to this question.
The report indicated Walsh, Joy and Zeeb Roads were the three roads most respondents lived near to and Merrill and Joy Road (Aberdeen to N. Delhi) and N. Delhi being reported as the most problematic gravel roads.
Many comments were left on the survey including those who felt taxes were already too high, some responded that road repairs could increase motorist speeds which may impact safety, comments about paving or not paving the roads, and comments as to a township wide millage for gravel road repair vs. a special assessment district for gravel road repair.
While addressing the township board, Toni Spears said there were a variety of different responses and opinions on how township residents felt about gravel road improvements and how it should be funded.
Webster Township Supervisor, John Kingsley offered information on how roads are funded.
“Roads are funded through the gasoline tax that primarily goes to the Federal Government. The Federal Government scrapes off their 8% for whatever, then they send it back to the State of Michigan through the Michigan Department of Transportation that has stipulations. One of those stipulations is that about 1% of that $.92 that comes back out of your dollar goes for non-motorized transportation,” said Kingsley. “Some of that money that comes back is earmarked for the Secretary of State’s Office which is helpful for things like elections, but it doesn’t fix the pot hole in your road.”
Kingsley added that in Webster Township the township has no obligation to fix any roads because they don’t belong to the township. He added that the township has spent money, in the past, from its operating revenue to pay for road improvements. The operating revenue is approximately 3/4 of a mil that brings in approximately $300,000 for operating expenses and approximately $228,000 of that went to road improvements that the township was not obligated to do. Kingsley added that the township also receives money in the form of revenue sharing and franchise fees.
Kingsley said the information from the Webster Township Gravel Road Survey can be used by the board for future discussions on road improvements but did not take any action at this time.
Also on the agenda was to accept the resignation of one Webster Township trustee and appoint a trustee in response to this.
Kingsley said Trustee Gary Koch resigned immediately after the October 16 board meeting. The board, unanimously accepted his resignation with regrets. Kingsley said the board had 45 days to fill the open seat, and this person would fill Koch’s term until the next general election. Kingsley appointed Brant Savander which the board approved. Savander took the Oath of Office after the November 20 board meeting.