Road levy going before Miami Twp. voters

4:46 p.m Monday, Oct. 12, 2015 Local

Voters in Miami Twp. will be asked this fall to approve a tax increase to fund road and bridge maintenance.

The 2.0-mill, five-year levy — Issue 10 on the Nov. 3 ballot — would generate about $1.1 million annually, according to the Montgomery County Auditor’s Office. It would be used to repair the township’s nearly 200 lane miles, which are in need of $11.3 million in repairs, according to a township-commissioned study completed this year.

The levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $70 per year, according to the auditor’s office.

No group has filed documents opposing the levy, according to the Montgomery County Board of Elections. Supporters of the issue say the tax increase is warranted, calling it “cost avoidance.”

“There are certain taxes — although we hate paying taxes — that make a lot of sense,” said Eric Flasher, who heads the Committee for Miami Twp. Roads, a political action committee working for the levy’s passage.

“Because I think spending a little money now saves a whole lot of expenses in the future,” he added. “Not to mention, on the personal side, if you hit a pothole and get a blown-out tire or need a realignment service on your vehicle, you’re spending hundreds of dollars versus the five or six dollars (a month) for a $100,000 house … to perhaps prevent that problem.”

The levy is being sought after an audit by Mosaic Strategic Partners found the community’s roadway infrastructure has suffered because of a lack of funds. More than 35 percent of the roads are described as in poor or critical condition and 32 percent were graded as fair, according to the audit.

The township’s roads can be financed only through its road and bridge fund, which is not adequately maintaining streets within the jurisdiction, according to the audit. In recent years, funding has been cut because of a drop of more than $250,000 in property taxes while street surfacing materials have at least doubled — and in some cases tripled — since 2000, the audit indicates.

The findings in the audit prompted Miami Twp. trustees to approve placing the levy on the ballot, said board Vice President Robert Matthews.

“It’s really important to the trustees that the roads be maintained. And my thinking is government needs to work on things only government can do, which are things like infrastructure and law enforcement and fire (protection),” he said. “It’s a primary responsibility for trustees to make sure those things are taken care of.”

Spending $300,000 a year to resurface roads that need $11.3 million in repairs would take more than 35 years, the study indicates. Using this time frame to address repairs would cause roads to deteriorate further, which will escalate costs, officials said.

With funds generated by the levy’s passage, all township roads could be resurfaced in five years, Flasher said.

“Obviously, folks do a lot of business in the township and they need good roads for commuting, emergency services, delivery of goods and packages to peoples’ homes,” he said. “For a lot of those reasons, (it would be) prudent to spend a little bit of money now to avoid the reconstruction costs of roads when they are severely deteriorated.”