Traverse City Record-Eagle

Region

December 23, 2013

Newsmakers: Road board makes changes, earns voters' approval

EDITOR’S NOTE: Newsmakers 2013 profiles people, places and events that made news in the Grand Traverse region during the past year.

TRAVERSE CITY — The first full year under new management at the Grand Traverse County Road Commission ended with something many local public officials coveted, but few achieved in 2013:

Voters’ approval — albeit by a slim margin of about 110 votes — of a local property tax increase.

But road commission Manager Jim Cook won’t take personal credit for the successful 1-mill increase that’s expected to raise $4.4 annually for road work in the county, or for a host of other improvements he said the road commission has undergone in 2013.

“It’s a team effort, and again we’ve made a lot of changes here at the road commission,” Cook said.

The changes, plus the influx of millage revenue, means residents will see more miles of road improved next year than at any other time in Grand Traverse County’s history, Cook said.

“This board is really keen on maintaining the system we have and getting our roads back in shape,” commission Chairman Carl Brown said. “That’s really the big goal.”

Cook, who started as manager in November 2012, said the commission in the last year purchased new equipment, hired capable staff and designed a plan to effectively manage the county’s road system. It also improved relations with community members and regional entities like the county’s townships and the Traverse City Area Transportation and Land Use Study.

The commission started 2013 on shaky footing with TC-TALUS when road board members voted in January to halt roughly $20,000 worth of annual dues to the regional transportation planning group. Commission officials also refused to release agendas to the public before a key meeting about the TALUS funding. Both moves drew criticism from some local leaders.

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