Questions about roads are probably the most frequently asked questions that I receive day to day. The interesting thing is that Townships have no authority over roads in their communities unlike cities and villages. In spite of this and the fact that we also do not receive any funding for roads, we diligently try to resolve problems with roads whenever possible. And, in the interest of our community, we have gotten involved as much as the law permits. So, here are some generic answers to some of the more common questions that I regularly receive:
Who is responsible for my roads?
If you live on either M-46 (Gratiot) or M-52 (Graham), then the Michigan Department of Transportation is responsible. Otherwise, the Saginaw County Road Commission (989-752-6140) is responsible for maintaining and operating your roads.
I pay a lot of taxes! Where does all of that money go?
As you know, there are many kinds of taxes. I am only going to comment on two kinds as they are typically the ones that are most often referred to. First, property taxes that you pay here at the Township are for specific legislatively or community directed services such as police, fire, sheriff, library, etc. Second, gas and weight taxes are the specific taxes that are supposed to maintain our road systems. These are the taxes that you pay at the pumps. The simple truth to start with is Townships do not receive a single penny of these taxes. They are distributed to the Federal government, State governments, Cities, Villages and Road Commissions.
How do I get my road repaired?
The Road Commission does basic maintenance, so if you are only interested in having a pothole filled, a drain unplugged or something small you should contact them directly. If you live in a subdivision on a local street and you want to see major repairs, possibly complete reconstruction, to your road, then you should contact the Township. About five years ago, the Township Board recognized that it was almost impossible to fix local roads in a state of complete disrepair and subsequently authorized the creation of the Subdivision Road Improvement Program (SRIP). They set aside funds each year to be used in conjunction with funds from homeowners to rebuild their roads. The way that it works is a homeowner or a group of homeowners would approach the Township with their concerns. The Township will then submit a request to have an estimate prepared by the Road Commission. Once the estimate is done, the Township communicates the total cost and the cost per home to the petitioners. A petition is prepared by the Township for circulation amongst the affected homeowners with frontage on the road(s). This petition is to ask the Township Board to establish a special assessment district to pay for the cost of the work. In conjunction with this through the SRIP, the Township commits 1/3 the cost or up to a maximum of $1,000 per home to the project provided there are adequate funds available for it, thereby reducing the individual homeowners cost by an equal amount. If the petition is supported by a large majority of the residents, then the Board will consider it for approval. If approved, a typical assessment is spread over seven years at a rate 1% over prime usually. The Road Commission is then directed to move forward with the project.