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RC council opposes road funding, bottle return changes

ROGERS CITY — The Rogers City City Council this week passed two resolutions opposing legislation recently introduced in Lansing that would change how road repairs are funded and how the revenue from unclaimed bottle deposits is spent.

The first resolution opposes bills recently introduced by state House Republicans that would phase out the 6% sales tax on fuel and replace it with a per-gallon gas tax. The replacement tax would generate $800 million without raising taxes.

A portion of the existing sales tax is currently transferred to local governments in the form of revenue sharing, according to the resolution. A report commissioned by the Michigan Municipal League estimates Rogers City has lost $1.86 million in revenue sharing between 2002 and 2017.

Rogers City Mayor Scott McLennan said that, while the City Council supports fixing roads, the proposed change would pull much-needed funding from small communities like Rogers City. He said legislators have diverted revenue sharing funds from municipalities before, and the city can’t take another revenue hit.

The city is already dealing with expenses for damage caused by high Lake Huron water levels and employee pension debt that must be controlled, and struggles to maintain basic operations, according to the resolution.

The council “supports the need to repair Michigan’s street system but not at the risk of even greater revenue sharing cuts,” the resolution reads.

The second resolution passed by the council opposes House Bill 5423, which would divert funds from unclaimed bottle deposits that might otherwise make their way to municipalities.

Currently, unclaimed deposits — which the state collects when people buy returnable bottles but never return them — are split between retailers and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. The proposed legislation would divert that funding to beverage companies.

The portion of money EGLE receives would fund more than 120 projects throughout the state this year, according to the resolution.

“The bill, if enacted would jeopardize many important clean-up projects, including one in Rogers City that would result in significant investment and job creation,” the resolution states. “The beverage industry is successful without need of these additional funds.”

City officials will send a copy of each resolutions to state Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, and state Rep. Sue Allor, R-Wolverine, both of whom represent Northeast Michigan.

Crystal Nelson can be reached at 989-358-5687 or cnelson@thealpenanews.com.

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