FLINT TWP. — Township Board Trustee Frank Kasle said he does not think it’s a good idea to place the township’s road renewal millage on the same ballot as the state’s controversial sales tax proposal for road improvements and other things.
Kasle said, based on what he’s heard and read, Michigan’s Proposal One request to raise the Michigan sales tax to 7 percent may face stiff voter opposition and he does not want the local road proposal to suffer from the fallout.
“I’m not sure that (state proposal) has majority support,” Kasle said. “If people are going to vote against that one, they are just as likely to vote against our millage. It might stand a better chance to pass on the August or November ballot.”
Kasle was outvoted six to one as the township board chose to move ahead with the ten-year millage renewal request for.50 mills on the May 5 ballot The road millage expires at the end of year and was first approved by voters in 2006.
Clerk Kim Courts explained that moving ahead is prudent because the township will not have to pay any election costs in May but would have to foot the bill for at least $15,000 in the August or November elections.
Courts submitted a letter from Doreen Fulcher, county election supervisor, encouraging the township to place any proposals on the May ballot because it will be reimbursed election costs because the state is running the sales tax proposal. Voting districts with proposals on the May ballot essentially get “a free ride,” Fulcher noted, offering a huge savings to taxpayers.
Courts said she credits voters with the ability to differentiate between the state and local road proposal.
Township Supervisor Karyn Miller said she preferred to avoid the expense to the taxpayers of running the road millage renewal on a later ballot. She also pointed out that it is renewal millage and will not cost taxpayers more than they are paying now.
“It is not a tax increase,” she said.
Treasurer Marcia Binelli said that the township board could decide whether to rerun the road renewal millage again on a later ballot this year, if voters reject it in May.
During public comment, one resident suggested holding off on the township renewal to see what happens with the state proposal.
Kasle and Miller both disagree, saying the state proposal will not benefit local roads.
At best, Corunna, Bristol and maybe Dutcher or Lennon road may see some “trickle down” benefit if the state proposal passes, Miller said.
“I guarantee you will not see it in your neighborhood,” she said. “That is why this road millage is so important.”
She mentioned several repair projects made during the past ten years using road millage funds.
If renewed, the millage is projected to generate about $400,221 in revenue in the first year levy.
Kasle stressed that he is not against renewing the road millage and will vote for it in May.
“We need the millage because our roads in the township are deteriorating just as fast as the state and county roads,’’ he said.
He also said that an estimated $15,000 in election costs in August or November is a small price to pay to secure $400,000 in revenue for road maintenance and improvement.