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The Fenton City Council has approved language for two proposals that will go on the November ballot. One proposal will ask voters to decide whether to approve a charter amendment to allow a special millage specifically for road and street improvements for up to 10 years — and the other to create a roads millage for 5 mills. 

City Manager Lynn Markland made the request to approve the two proposals at its Monday, Aug. 6 work session.

The Fenton City Council discussed the topic for more than 40 minutes in front of a packed conference room, before voting unanimously to approve both proposals.

Council members agreed that not repairing the roads would mean a failure on their part, which led to discussion on how much to ask on the proposal. Eventually they settled on 5 mills.

“Every city is going through this, not just the city of Fenton,” said Mayor Sue Osborn.

Last year, voters defeated a proposal to amend the charter to allow for a taxing period of 10 years instead of three for any proposal, by a vote of 1,140 to 385.

The proposal in this November’s election would increase the number of years for just the road and street improvements.

Fenton City officials have repeatedly said there is only one way to get the city streets fixed, and that is if voters approve a citywide millage. And in order to maximize the number of streets that can be fixed under one millage, a 10-year collection period is necessary, said Markland.

Funds the city receives through Public Act 51 is not enough to fund regular maintenance, including winter maintenance and improvements to the streets, said Markland.

Public Act 51 (of 1951 as amended) created the Michigan Transportation

Fund (MTF). Revenues collected through highway user taxes, state motor fuels taxes, vehicle registration fees, and other miscellaneous automobile-related taxes are deposited into the MTF.

By the year 2021, the city of Fenton is expected to collect $1,398,117 from the MTF.

A few years ago, the state legislature enacted some new legislation that provides more funds for roads and streets, Markland said. But the first few years of that additional revenue collection will go to pay off Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) debt (bonds) that was incurred many years ago.

The city’s additional revenue is estimated to be an additional $500,000 in revenue by 2021, but until MDOT’s funds are paid off, the city’s increase will be marginal.

It should be noted that DDA (Downtown Development Authority) dollars cannot be used for street or road improvements.

The city’s engineers have conducted a street and road study and have determined that the city needs to spend about $2 million a year on improvements, and the only way the city has to raise revenue is through a millage. Markland said based on information from the city treasurer, it would take 4.75 mils to raise approximately $1.5 million for roads.

IF 5 MILLS PROPOSAL PASSES, IT WILL COST:

$50,000 taxable value = $250

$100,000 taxable value =$500

$150,000 taxable value = $750

$200,000 taxable value = $1,000

City residents had this to say about the article:

Nate G. said “This will be an easy ‘no’ vote for me until the city can publish what they have done to make cuts in their yearly budget to start saving money for the road repairs. If the city wants to add an additional tax to my household, I will have to make cuts to budget in that added tax. I am not interested in doing that if the city had not made cuts within its budget as well.”

Michael C. said, “Well Councilperson Lockwood, how about if we use those three months to educate the mayor and city council regarding wiser use of our (not their personal) tax dollars? They can begin by not squandering funds on unsightly so-called works of art in our public places.”

Sean S. said, “ The city staff has done an amazing job in the last 10 years to find a way to keep the budget balanced through grants, cuts, etc. To the point that the average citizen doesn’t realize how much the revenue has been chopped. To use your household analogy, the city’s paycheck has been cut by 20 percent and they were still able to pay their bills. Could you do the same?”

Associate Editor

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