K’zoo Twp. voters to decide on tax hike for $10 million road fix proposal

Posted at 11:32 PM, Jan 07, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-07 23:32:30-05

KALAMAZOO TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Voters in February will get to decide whether they support a $9.75 million bond proposal to pay for projects on nearly every township roadway.

The proposed overhaul, which encompasses three year's worth of projects covering more than 50 stretches of road, will only move forward if voters agree to paying the additional taxes required to cover the debt over a 10 year period.

View a complete list of roads slated to be redone through 2017 under the millage proposal.

Ron Reid, the township's supervisor said a 2013 study conducted by the Kalmazoo County Road Commission found roughly 75 percent of the township's roads were in fair or poor condition.

The township vote comes in the same year voters statewide are expected to head to the ballot in May to vote on a sales tax increase for roads. It's timing that could appear to be an unappealing double dose to some, and admittedly is already proving to be confusing for others, according to Reid.

“It's a concern, but we really have no control over that," he said. "I’ve heard this several times already, ‘don’t worry, we don’t need this bond proposal because the state’s going to take care of us in May when we vote for the change in the sales tax' and that’s just completely false.”

The February township proposal is a bond that would pay for road repairs only in the township. The statewide May ballot issue is a proposal for a sales tax hike with the majority of money intended for state roads and highways.

Reid said he's working to stress the difference and in the end, the need for both.

A 2013 survey asking residents if they'd be willing to pay more taxes to fund road projects found 51 percent said they would, according to Reid who said roughly 400 residents were surveyed.

If approved, the estimated millage to begin being levied in 2015 is 1.30 mills, or $1.30 per $1,000 of the taxable value of a home. The millage rate required to retire the bond for the remaining nine is 2.51 mills, or $2.51 per $1,000 of the taxable value of a home.

The average homeowner in Kalamazoo Township, where the average taxable value of a home is roughly $40,000, would pay approximately an extra $100 annually in taxes, if the proposal passes.

Reid said he wants to move the process along quickly, citing the decision to place the proposal on the February ballot would allow construction to begin as soon as this year, if the bond is approved.

“It’ll allow us to get the approval to sell the bonds and if we get that approval, we can get those bonds sold by June and start doing work in the summer," he said.

"If we waited until May, the bonds wouldn’t be sold until August which means the construction season is done and you’ve got to wait another year."

Opponents have expressed issue with the process moving too fast, while arguing the support is not as widespread as the township survey claims.

The election will be held on February 24.