OPINION

Letter: Keep local road funding local

We are extremely disappointed by Gov. Rick Snyder’s veto of a key road-funding related bill that passed unanimously in the House and Senate. This bill would have eliminated a local cost-sharing provision for road funding for cities over 25,000 in population on Michigan Department of Transportation projects.

At a time when our communities can’t even afford to maintain their own roads, the governor has continued the broken model of forcing communities to shoulder the burden of archaic state policy established more than six decades ago.

Public Act 51 requires the 45 cities in Michigan with a population greater than 25,000 to pay a portion of the Michigan Department of Transportation’s project costs within those cities. SB 557 would have removed this provision, and would ensure that money intended to preserve local roads is invested back into those local road networks and restores equity amongst all local road agencies.

The governor mischaracterizes the negative impact of SB 557 and calls on the Legislature to enact a comprehensive rewrite of Act 51 by the end of the year. The governor has since called on the Legislature to work with his administration over the summer on the issue. While we support revising the formula, a full rewrite by the end of the year is very unlikely.

So while more time and effort is dedicated to studying this issue, our communities will continue to suffer financially. As an example, look at Madison Heights, population 29,694. Without legislations like SB 557, the impact on a city like Madison Heights will be devastating. That community faces a $4 million bill from MDOT for their local cost share on the I-75 expansion project. This bill basically eliminates the equivalent of two years of the city’s current Act 51 funding allocation, and severely limits the amount of work that can be done on Madison Heights’ local roads.

Our cities are struggling after years of state cuts to revenue sharing and declines in property taxes. We seek immediate fixes, even incremental ones like SB 557 provided. We know our roads are crumbling and our infrastructure is in desperate need of repair. As a result, we struggle to compete for jobs and lack the quality of life our people desire. The only certainty this veto provides is that 45 cities across Michigan will continue to pay the state’s tab to the detriment of local roads.

Jack O’Reilly, Mayor of Dearborn

President of the Michigan Municipal League

Rosalynn Bliss, Mayor of Grand Rapids

Vice President of the League

Rebecca Fleury, Battle Creek City Manager

Bobby Hopewell, Mayor of Kalamazoo

Maureen Donker, Mayor of Midland

Dan Greer, Jackson City Councilmember

Mark Vanderpool,

Sterling Heights City Manager