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Published: 8/10/2011

Bedford Twp. trustees to place road maintenance levy on Nov. ballot

Survey shows support for action

BY SARA FELSENSTEIN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Bedford Township Supervisor Walt Wilburn said his phone rings off the hook with residents complaining about the deteriorating condition of local roads.

He said local roads have been a problem for years, but this year has been worse.

"We shouldn't have potholes in August," he said.

The Bedford Township Board of Trustees voted 6-1 at the board's regular meeting to put a 1-mill, 10-year levy on the Nov. 8 ballot that would go toward improving township roads. If passed, the levy would raise $970,732 the first year for improvements and maintenance to various roads in the township.

A $100,000 homeowner would pay $50 a year under the millage.

Mr. Wilburn said it is important to put the issue out to the public immediately, because road conditions are constantly worsening.

"We surveyed the public, we got their input, and we felt their input warranted putting this on the ballot," he said. "If they vote for it, we will try our best to get those roads in a lot better shape than what they were."

Out of the 700 surveys returned, 500 residents supported the proposal, and 180 said they did not.

"At least half of the 'nos' were because of questions people [had,]" Mr. Wilburn said. "People needed clarification about how the money was going to be spent."

The board said it does not have funding to improve the roads without the levy.

"Without additional funding for maintenance, Bedford Township's roads will crumble at an ever increasing rate while we wait for the state legislature to act," they said in their report. "If we want the roads in Bedford Township fixed, we must pay for them ourselves."

The committee said that the state and federal governments are unable and unwilling to find the resources to maintain Bedford Township's roads, bridges, and culverts.

Township Clerk Bob Schockman voted against putting the measure on the ballot. He said he does not disagree with the urgent condition of the roads, he disagrees with the timing and money involved.

"I see ... a lot of our money being spent that some of our residents said should be spent elsewhere," he said.

Township Treasurer Sherri Meyer emphasized that the money raised would be used exclusively in Bedford.

"I think that it will be good to have control of this money ourselves," she said. "It will be spent here in Bedford Township, for our problems, our potholes, things that need to be taken care of."

The Township Board will hold five town hall meetings before the November election to address residents' questions about the millage proposal.

The meetings will take place 1:30 p.m. Aug.19 at Bedford Township Hall; 10 a.m. Sept.17 at the Bedford Library; 6 p.m. Sept. 21 at the Bedford Senior Center, and 10 a.m. Oct. 8 at Bedford Township Hall. The date of the final meeting is to be determined.

Also last week, the board unanimously approved the consolidation of 14 precincts in the township to eight. The move will save money through a reduction in election workers. The board does no yet have information on which precincts will be merged.

Contact Sara Felsenstein at: sfelsenstein@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.



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