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Board eyes funding formula for subdivision roads

by David Fleet

October 23, 2013

Atlas Twp.- The board of trustees voted 4-0 on Monday night to allocate $2,500 for a share of the $4,250 in costs for a crack seal project on the roads in the Atlas Lake Estates.

Treasurer Ann Marie Moore was absent.

The funding is needed for the project since assistance from the Genesee County Road Commission is limited, said Shirley Kautman-Jones, township supervisor.

"The Genesee County Road Commission does not have the time nor manpower to work on the 10 miles of subdivision roads in the township," she said. "There's no Act 51 for subdivision roads. We just can't sit around and wait for subs to fix the road themselves."

Act 51 collects revenue through highway user taxes and state motor fuel taxes, vehicle registration fees, and other miscellaneous automobile-related taxes. Crack sealing is a rehabilitation method used to keep excess water or moisture from penetrating asphalt and to prevent further deterioration of the roadway. The liquid asphalt is used on many roads throughout the county. Atlas Township Estates currently has three homes in the subdivision, which opened in 2000.

"It's just in our best interest to come up with a formula for the subdivision roads," she said. "There are roads out there that could cost $500,000. Consider, too, that one mile of chip and seal can cost $35,000. The fog seal is another $5,000. Right now we pay about $1,000 for a mile of gravel on the road."

"We should do a percentage," said Barry June, township trustee. "The township currently spends money on local roads that impact more people."

Genesee County Road Commissioner John Daly said road work in a subdivision is often a conundrum.

"Sometimes the issue becomes spending money for a small group of homes in a subdivision versus assistance for a larger area impacting more people—it's up to the township," he said. "But we provide the service, the township provides the financing."

Daly said each community handles the financing different.

"Some communities have a millage for road repairs, some use special assessment and some pay for repairs from the general fund," he said. "The extensiveness of the project will determine if a private contractor will be used. Since the county is responsible for all the roads, we just want to make sure they are done right. Right now we are spending $1.13 in services for every $1 we receive in services. It's a blend for some road services with private and county workers—guard rail construction, ditching and chip and seal are jobbed out."

Daly said in 1993 the GCRC employed 227 road workers.

"Today we have 152 with 2 percent more roads than 20 years ago," he said. "We've had a hiring freeze in effect for eight years. We are running this business on funding similar to what we received in 1997. The lawmakers are to blame and unless funding changes we'll have serious infrastructure problems. They (lawmakers) just don't make it a priority."

To help curb some of the costs, private contractors are being used in Flint and Mt. Morris townships to plow snow when more than five inches falls.

"It takes us 36-40 hours to get through all the 4,200 miles of county roads," he said. "We use the comparison of plowing all the roads we cover in the county as being like driving from San Diego to Bangor, Maine. Our plan, which has been in effect for eight years, are state trunk lines, primary roads, section line, local roads, then subdivisions. The higher traffic volume roads are plowed first."