Road Commissioners Lobby Snyder For Support

By: Liam Martin Email
By: Liam Martin Email

LANSING -- From potholes to snow removal, Governor Snyder is promised audience members at the annual County Road Association of Michigan breakfast -- that he's on the case.

"We're somewhere in the midst of pothole season," the governor said. "And I appreciate all the challenges you face and all the hard work we've gone through."

But the hundreds of local commissioners in attendance say they're in a wait-and-see pattern on the governor's transportation plan, due out in the fall.

And in the meantime, they're strapped for cash.

"Ingham [County] Road Commission, like most road commissions, has seen a 10-15 percent decline in our gas-tax and vehicle-registration revenue," said commissioner Bill Conklin. Besides federal money, those are the only forms of funding road commissions in Michigan receive.

The Ingham County Road Commission has already lost 30 employees over the past decade and still struggles to stay on budget.

In Clinton County?

"We aren't replacing people; we aren't resurfacing roads; we aren't replacing equipment," sais commissioner Joe Pulver. "So that all starts to take an effect after a while."

Across the board, counties are facing the double-burden of increasing costs for supplies like salt and asphalt (the prices for some have tripled in the past five years), and decreasing gas-tax revenue as folks cut down on travel with prices on the rise.

In total, the transportation system in Michigan is estimated to be about $2 billion in the hole.

"We've been, for years, looking at the issue of raising the gax tax," said John Niemela, head of the County Road Association of Michigan. "Probably the most common is in the range of raising the gas tax as high as 9 cents over a three-year period."

Commissioners have also proposed making the gas tax a percentage of the price of gas -- which would insulate road commission from the effect of skyrocketing prices.

But the governor declined Wednesday to say if he'll consider a gas tax increase, saying he'll place that in the bullpen for consideration in the fall.

For now, road commissioners are just glad that the worst of the winter is likely over.

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  • by unemployed on Mar 10, 2011 at 08:02 AM
    If the state would dock the pay every time you see a road commission employee sitting under a shade tree for hours on end they would have plenty of money to fix our roads and keep the grass mowed along the highways as well.
  • by John Location: Bellevue MI on Mar 9, 2011 at 03:23 PM
    I think we should have a toll for everyone entering our great state of Michigan to help fix our roads. It seems like every other state has tolls.
  • by Tim Location: Lansing on Mar 9, 2011 at 03:14 PM
    We do nit need a gas tax raise. We need to get out of the Federal Highway Admistration and keep the Fed Gas Tax of 19 cents in Michigan. In 1990 over 99% of the US interstate was finished. Michigan is a 60% state. Forevery dollar we putin we get 60 cents back. Some states get 140% for their dollar. I worked for MDOT for over 20 years. We talked about it then andwe should do it now. Why send it to other tax money to other states when we need it here. Thank You.
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