BY MICHAEL WALTON
TRAVERSE CITY — Grand Traverse County Road Commissioners voted to stop paying just over $20,200 worth of dues to the Traverse City Area Transportation and Land Use Study.
The vote to withdraw the funding ended 4-1 amongst concerns about the value of the 22-agency group voiced by members of the public, current and former Grand Traverse County Commissioners and road commissioners.
Former County Commissioner and current Blair Township Trustee Larry Fleis estimated the road commission spent roughly $582,000 on funding for TC-TALUS over the last 17 years. He urged the road board to end the cash flow there.
"What have you received from TC-TALUS for $582,000," he said.
Grand Traverse County Commissioner Christine Maxbauer also asked the road commission to stop its funding, though she stated her remarks did not represent the position of the full county commission.
"I am not a big fan of funding something just because we have always done it that way," she said.
Road Commissioner John Nelson, who cast the dissenting vote, said the road commission should meet with TC-TALUS representatives before pulling the funds.
"It's only a courtesy to those people," he said.
Nelson argued TC-TALUS has provided the commission valuable planning services since its inception, services which would have cost far more from a contracted planner. He added that state and federal agencies often want to consult regional planning organizations before funding local projects.
"There are consequences to this vote," Nelson said. "Severe, serious consequences."
Road Commissioner Marc McKellar admitted TC-TALUS has provided valuable services to the community, but he said the road commission was paying too much and other TC-TALUS members too little.
"We're being asked to fund the lion's share of TALUS," he said.
The total TALUS budget is $90,000. The road commission is the largest local funder of the group's agencies, behind the Michigan Department of Transportation.