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Published: Thursday, 4/27/2006

Townships show little interest in road levy

BY VANESSA WINANS
BLADE STAFF WRITER

MONROE - A recent poll of Monroe County townships to see if they would consider asking voters for road construction millages elicited mostly negative results.

Of the 15 townships, only two, Bedford and Monroe Charter, told the Monroe County Road Commission they would consider putting the question to voters, commission spokesman Nancy Tienvieri said.

The three townships that already have millages for road construction - Dundee, Summerfield, and Whiteford - gave a thumbs down to asking residents for more.

Two townships, Berlin and Ash, asked the commission for more information, although Ash township's board voted the notion down. Erie, LaSalle, Frenchtown, Raisinville, and Ida said no. And Exeter, Milan, and London didn't respond at all.

Nonetheless, Mrs. Tienvieri said the commission wasn't depressed by the answers.

"There wasn't any discouragement at all," she said. "We're just eager to get any of the work we can. Monroe and Bedford have the highest return on their tax dollars, so those would be the most dollars anyway."

And even though the townships said they would consider putting the question on a future ballot, that doesn't mean they will. Individual boards will have to consider the question in the coming months.

The road commission polled the county's townships earlier this month.

Some had concerns that any money they raised could go to other townships within the county.

"If we collect $930,000 to $950,000 in Bedford, I'd want to make sure that stays in Bedford and we can dictate what we want to do," Bedford trustee Dennis Steinman said.

"I don't want it going to pay for a bridge in Summerfield Township. ... If we want to put something on the ballot for our people, fine and dandy, but in a countywide millage, we would lose control."

If a township were to pass a millage, the money would stay there and be spent on road construction projects of the township's choice, Mrs. Tienvieri said.

"Whatever dollars come in from that township would be spent in the township, on whatever projects the township boards approve," Mrs. Tienvieri said.

"It's the best option if you're looking for local control. They can pick the project. They could be local roads, or primary roads."

The poll came about because the road commission, which has a project budget of about $15 million, is facing falling revenues from the state and rising prices of petroleum products.

Additionally, the commission has no authority to levy a tax, so it depends on government bodies to levy taxes for it.

The one-two pecuniary punch has left the commission scrambling to find new ways to fund road construction and renovation projects.



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