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Posted: 02/13/13

Bruce officials debate fee
to pay for road project

Observer Staff Writer
      The Bruce Township Board of Trustees is considering a 1 percent charge to residents for covering administration costs and free up general fund dollars.
       During a special meeting held Feb. 6, the board began discussions about the general fund for the 2013-14 fiscal year, which included finding ways of funding a $2.2 million road project.
       The 1 percent fee would bring in a total of $139,800 to the township. According to state law, 20 percent of the collected revenue would cover treasurer costs, while 80 percent would off-set assessor costs. Residents with a $100,000 home will pay about $30 a year.
       Supervisor Richard Cory said it was "gut-wrenching" to consider the option, but noted the money would be used for township improvements.
       "There is not a whole lot of wiggle room in this budget," Cory said. "I'm throwing it out there so people can start learning about it, start getting some feedback."
       Cory said the money saved from the general fund would help pay for improvements to 34 Mile Road. Federal grant dollars have been set aside for a $2.2 million project to pave 34 Mile Road from Campground to Fisher roads, but to receive the grant, the township must contribute $470,000 as a match.
       The township is looking into a loan of that amount in order to pay its match. Treasurer Deborah Obrecht said it would improve the chances of obtaining the loan if the life of the loan was 15 years. She said the estimated interest rate is 3 percent.
       "That would be okay if we had the extra revenue source, it wouldn't be a problem," Obrecht said.
       Clerk Susan Brockmann calculated the payment without interest to be $31,000 a year if the board took out the loan for 15 years. A 25-year payment would be $18,000 to $20,000.
       Brockmann said most communities in the area charge the 1 percent fee, with Bruce Township being an exception. She said the budget is constrained enough that it could be an option.
       "I kind of view this as a way of not raising taxes," she said. "I really don't know why we haven't been doing this."
       Trustee Paul Okoniewski spoke against it, saying residents are already burdened enough with taxes.
       "If I wasn't paying a zoo tax and Detroit Institute of Arts tax, which to me are stupid, and an intermediate school district in perpetuity. . . I might consider something like that," he said.
       Okoniewski said he would like to see the township explore all options for reducing the impact on residents, such as bringing the library millage back for a vote.
       "Maybe we can reduce some of that, still support the library, but still reduce some of the burden on our people," he said.
       Brockmann said the library tax would have to go to the county for approval if it were to be on a future ballot.
       Other road projects the board is considering in its new budget is three miles of limestone coverage for township roads. The Macomb County Department of Roads is offering a 90/10 split for northern Macomb County communities to distribute a total of 18 miles of six-inch limestone.
       The communities pay $6,400 per mile. The township will ask for more if another community doesn't utilize the program. The board will further discuss the limestone treatments at the Feb. 13 meeting.
       The board will also place funds into road chloride treatments, which pays for any additional treatments after two the county provides.
       The budget needs to be approved by the end of March.

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