FLINT TWP. — In a 5-2 vote, the township board of trustees agreed to dip into its general fund balance to help pay for road projects this year.
The approved road plan for the 2016 construction season will see road millage funds used for milling and paving work on Sugar Bush Lane and Dye Krest Circle. Then, remaining funds will be applied to paving and milling on Graham Road, and the balance of the cost paid out of the general fund. The Calkins Road paving and milling project, now in its third and last year, will be totally paid by the general fund.
The projects on Dye Krest and Sugar Bush are estimated at $49,531.16 and $57,545.66, respectively.
The road millage is expected to generate about $374,000 this year, according to Township Supervisor Karyn Miller. That leaves about $266,924 to be applied to the Graham Road project, which is estimated to cost $221,559.22. The Calkins Road project is estimated at $63,845.66.
The spending plan was unanimously recommended by the township Road Advisory Committee, a volunteer group that oversees and prioritizes road millage spending.
Board Trustees Barb Vert and Belenda Parker voted against the plan based on their objections to using general funds to pay for road projects.
Last year, prior to voters renewing the ten-year .5 road millage in the November election, board members twice voted down requests to use the general fund for road projects.
“The money might be here now but if you look at the budget a few years down the road, it doesn’t look all that great,” Vert said. “Instead of living on champagne and caviar, I don’t want to go back to bread and water.”
Vert acknowledged the need to fix many township roads but said in her opinion the Sugar Bush and Dye Krest projects could wait.
Trustee George Menoutes said he voted in favor of the spending plan because the road millage does not raise enough money to all the work that is needed. If the money is available in the general fund, it should be used, he said. adding that the Road Advisory Committee spend a lot of time determining which roads to fix first.
Miller provided data showing that the road millage generates less than it did five years ago. In 2009, the fund generated about $559,522 compared to the projected $374,000 this year. The decline is based on declining property tax revenues.
Miller said the township has about $10.3 million in general fund revenue and is required by law to reserve a minimum of 30 percent to cover three to four months of operating expenses. The surplus is now at 40 percent of the total budget – approximately a $4 million surplus.
Road millage funds are resident taxes that only can be used for road maintenance and improvement. General fund revenue is also taxpayer’s money but not restricted, she said.