Voters in Meridian Twp. deciding on roads tax

Meridian Township is asking for a $35million in the form of a property tax hike to help fix the roads. (Source WILX)
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MERIDIAN TWP., MI. (WILX) - In Tuesday's election, Meridian Township asked voters to approve $35million in the form of a property tax hike to help fix the roads.

The money would be spent on roughly 150 miles of neighborhood streets.

This has been a debate for most of the year.

The city said the money will go toward fixing 147 miles of neighborhood streets, that doesn't include state or county roads.

The state roads not included in the street bond are Grand River Avenue and Saginaw Highway. The county roads not included are Hagadorn, Okemos, Dobie, Meridian, Hamilton, Park Lake, Marsh, Haslett, Lake Lansing and Lake Drive.

The state and county is responsible for major roads.

The focus on the mill is for repaving neighborhood streets... which Meridian Township Manager, Frank Walsh says people mainly use anyway.

"Predominantly, if you look at 85 to 90% of the roads you drive on in the community, 80-85% of those are neighborhood streets," he said.

People who live in a private neighborhood will be responsible for paying for their own roads, plus the 147 miles of local roads.

Walsh says even if the state starts handing out more road money to local communities, it probably won't cover the amount Meridian Township needs.

"We know we'll need $3.5 million. We're not looking to double dip. We're not looking to take advantage of anyone," Walsh said.

Walsh says the current funding only allows for one to three miles of streets to be repaved per year.

Existing local street funding is provided through Ingham County's local match program and Meridian Township's 0.2479 local street millage.

Combined, these funding sources can provide $600,000 per year for local streets.

Township officials said the current funding need is $3.5 million annually for the next 10 years to get the roads to "good condition."

The increase would cost the average homeowner 1.95 mills over a decade and would allow the township to repave the 147 local miles of roads.

For instance, the owner of a home with a market value of about $300,000 would pay $292 per year, up from $36 annually for a house of the same value.

We took a look at who's contributing to the "Vote Yes" campaign called "Residents To Fix Meridian Roads."
We found a local law firm, unions and an asphalt contractor were contributing.

Cary Ford, a homeowner who is voting 'yes,' said there are roads in his subdivision that would be fixed under the proposal.

"They've been neglected for an awfully long time. There are lots of potholes and all of us have vehicles subject to damage. Kids play and use the streets in the neighborhoods. I just feel like we can't continue to let them go," Ford said.

One homeowner, who didn't want to talk on-camera, said he's voting 'no' because he doesn't want to help foot the bill for local streets he doesn't use frequently.

Although Ford said the tax is significant, it's worth the cost to fix the roads.

"All of our local roads improves property values and improves desirability in our neighborhoods. I advocate for both of those."

As far as the "Vote No" camp, the clerk's office says there's no group registered in Ingham County despite signs popping up in the area.

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