Road commission examining road reconstruction funding policy

LINCOLN — The Alcona County Road Commission has directed Managing Director Jesse Campbell to come up with a new set of policies concerning how road projects are paid between the road commission and townships.

The new policies were discussed Tuesday during a meeting. Currently the road commission cost shares with townships and other municipalities for road projects depending on the location of the work. He said for primary roads the cost share is 50/50, for local roads the cost share is 75 percent for the road commission and 25 percent for the township.

Campbell told trustees that the problem is in some cases townships cannot come up with matching funds, but grants from the federal government are too big to give up.

He said one example is the continued work on F-41 in Mikado Township, which has had a major section reconstructed over the past two summers.

Campbell said township officials could not pay match funding, and the road commission used surplus funding — against the policy — to do the roadway work.

There have been other instances of this, and the opposite, he told trustees. Campbell said other townships have willingly paid their share for road projects under the policy. He recognized that a few townships have no road millages and little funding sources to begin with for projects.

Chairman Alfred Scully agreed there were some projects where large amounts of grant money from the Michigan Department of Transportation were given out that officials could not pass up.

“It’s nice to get the jobs done, but it’s not fair to the other townships to be burdened with the amount and other ones get away with it for free,” Scully said.

Campbell said he would like to get rid of the township match for many projects so the road commission funding could be put directly toward primary road projects, roadways that are used the most by the public. He said townships could then save funding and fully fund their own road projects for local roads.

Trustee Theodore Somers agreed that officials need to find a way to change things to make the situation fair.

Scully agreed.

“If they think they can get away with it today, they are going to think that they can get away with it tomorrow,” Scully said. “In order to get some jobs done we have had to bend that rule, and we were financially able to do that, but are we going to be able to do that in the future?”

Trustees directed Campbell to come up with a set of policies that would address the issue.

Campbell said he would do that and set up a meeting for township officials in February and March to discuss the issues.