MARSHALL, Mich. — Some experts continue to sound the alarm over inadequate funding coming in to help fix local and county roads.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was set to testify before Congress Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, on the need to fix the roads in Michigan.
This issue has hampered Michigan for generation, but there seemed to be no consensus on how to fix the problem.
Whitmer’s plan to fix the roads included taking out billions of dollars in bonds for road projects that only help state roads and highways.
“That’s only 8% of the total roads, the rest are county, city, village, those jurisdictions aren’t benefiting in anyway from the bond,” said Eric Lupher, president of the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, a nonprofit think tank examining solutions to fix the state’s problems.
Crumbling roads are everywhere in Michigan, including in Calhoun County,
“We spend three million dollars a year on pothole patching,” said John Midgley, managing director of the Calhoun County Road Department.
Midgley said repairing potholes takes up 20% of its $14 million budget. A budget with little room for much else.
“We have over $300 million in needs. With a $14 million budget for motor vehicle highway funds, we do the best we can,” Midgley said.
Funding from federal and state gas tax revenue helps fix local and state roads, but the state legislature shot down a proposed 45-cent gas tax increase in 2019.
“Gas tax is easy, but not a long term solution,” Lupher said.
Whitmer announced during her 2021 State of the State address, she was open to negotiating a funding solution for the roads, referencing previous legislation that would have given local government options to levy local fuel taxes or add onto registration fees.
Sen. Michael MacDonald, R-Macomb Township, and co-sponsor Sen. Paul Wojno, D-Warren, introduced Senate Bill 32, which would allow counties to collect their own gas tax revenue.
Lupher said that could disadvantage some parts of the state.
“The idea that let’s just not change the tax rate and letting counties keep what they collect. It’s just not a recipe for fixing what ails us,” Lupher said.
Lupher said one solution could be to allow Michigan townships and cities to adopt their own local-option tax to raise revenue for road repairs. The state would have to pass a new law to allow for municipalities to adopt their own tax.
This article appeared in WWMT, for more, click here.