Traverse City Record-Eagle

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October 5, 2013

Roads tax question slated for November ballot

TRAVERSE CITY — Jack Viront thinks Grand Traverse County’s roads are in bad shape, but he won’t vote for a tax increase to fix them.

I’m tired of paying taxes,” Viront said as he filled his gas tank at the Meijer station on U.S. 31 one afternoon this week.

Many county residents echoed Viront’s sentiment, an indication that a Grand Traverse County Road Commission-proposed tax increase could be headed for a bumpy ride on election day next month.

Drivers in Michigan pay taxes for roads when they buy gas and when they register a vehicle with the Secretary of State. Viront, of Garfield Township, said that’s enough.

“I think this is fine, the way we have it now,” he said. “They’re always trying to find ways to get more money from us.”

The road commission’s three-year, 1-mill proposal to improve and maintain local roads originated after state lawmakers’ attempts to increase road funding — one of Gov. Rick Snyder’s goals for 2013 — stalled.

“Funding for roads in the state hasn’t changed since ‘97,” road commission Chair Carl Brown said. “With no increases, and it looks like Lansing isn’t doing anything, we think this is how we can fix the county road system.”

The millage would cost the owner of a home with $100,000 in taxable value $100 a year, if approved.

It would generate about $4.4 million annually, with $3.5 million going to the road commission, $750,000 to Traverse City, $27,600 to the Village of Kingsley and $11,300 to Fife Lake Village.

All that money would be earmarked for road repairs and maintenance, road board member Marc McKellar said.

Other tax-capturing entities, like brownfield authorities and downtown development authorities, would receive about $125,000 annually from the millage, county Treasurer Heidi Scheppe said. That money does not have to be spent on roads.

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