TRAVERSE CITY — With 33 of 36 precincts reporting at press time, renewal of a Grand Traverse County Road Commission millage and added funding for the county’s 911 services were thousands of votes ahead.
At 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, the road millage renewal was ahead by a healthy margin, with 21,666 in favor and 12,912 opposed.
The vote to increase the 911 surcharges was 19,291 in favor and 15,275 opposed.
Absentee ballots in Traverse City, East Bay Township and Paradise Township remained uncounted, however.
East Bay Township Clerk Sue Courtade said 5,166 absentee ballots were still uncounted, despite use of a new high-speed counting machine.
Road Commission Manager Brad Kluczynski said he was hopeful.
“I am pleased it looks like the people in the county have faith in our ability to spend their money wisely on repairing the roads,” Kluczynski said. “I look forward to the next four years of making improvements to the road network according to our asset management plan.”
The Local Streets, Roads, Highways, and Bridges Repair and Improvement Millage renewal proposal asked voters to support a property tax of $1 per $1,000 of taxable value, for four years, to repair and improve the county’s streets, roads, highways and bridges.
If passed, the millage is expected to provide about $5 million annually through 2024 for county road projects, as well as improvements on roads in Traverse City, Fife Lake and Kingsley.
The request for additional funding for Central Dispatch’s 911 services, if passed, will increase from $1.85 per month to $2.50 beginning Jan. 1.
The 65-cent increase would be in effect through 2027 and is expected to generate about $2.7 million per year for the department.
The increased revenue would be used to upgrade two workstations so they are operational for extra staff to use during festivals, severe weather or high profile incidents, which generates additional call volume, 911 Director Jason Torrey said.
The funds would also pay to upgrade equipment for first responders and allow 24-hour supervisory coverage at Central Dispatch, he said.
The revenue breakdown includes $1,772,962 for staffing and operations, $420,000 for purchase, maintenance and replacement of radio and paging equipment, $230,500 for contracts and system maintenance, $250,000 for infrastructure improvements and $130,000 for facility and 911 systems replacement.
Calls to the county’s 911 emergency lines are up nearly 20 percent since 2010, Torrey previously said. Population growth, an increase in tourism and more devices in the hands of residents and visitors are responsible for the increase, he said.
The current surcharge, which expires Dec. 31, is $1.85. Grand Traverse County commissioners unanimously approved putting the question on the ballot earlier this year.
The average voter-approved 911 surcharge in the region is $2.49, with Benzie and Missaukee each collecting $3, Kalkaska collecting $2.52 and Wexford $2.25. Leelanau County doesn’t have a voter-approved surcharge and assesses .42. The state legislature has capped the maximum at $3, Torrey said.
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