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Would You Pay More Taxes for Better Royal Oak Streets? Take the Poll

The Royal Oak City Commission met Wednesday to focus on the city’s deteriorating roads and discuss what should be done to improve local streets.

The city of Royal Oak is discussing different ways to fund street repairs, including the possibility of a millage. (Photo: City of Royal Oak)
The city of Royal Oak is discussing different ways to fund street repairs, including the possibility of a millage. (Photo: City of Royal Oak)

Roads are a huge problem, not just in Royal Oak, but throughout Michigan, according to City Manager Don Johnson.  

“The state legislature has been unwilling to levy the taxes necessary to maintain quality roads. Instead of paying more for good roads, Michigan drivers pay for automobile repairs necessitated by bad roads,” wrote Johnson in his summary for theRecommended Budget for Fiscal Year 2014-2015.

“I believe the most important objective established for 2014-15 is formal recognition of what I identified as our greatest need last year,” wrote Johnson. “That objective is to ‘Explore revenue options to fund road improvement and maintenance sufficient to reach target average and minimum PASER ratings to be decided by the City Commission.’”

What Is a PASER Rating?

Royal Oak City Engineer Matt Callahan explained to commissioners that the Pavement Surface Evaluation and Rating (PASER) is used to evaluate the condition of road segments. The PASER system rates each road segment on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the worst condition, and 10 being the best condition (new pavement).

>> Read the Royal Oak Pavement Management Analysis here.

“When a road rates 3 or below it’s in very bad shape. When the road has a rating of 1, it needs to be completely rebuilt. Nothing is salvageable,” Callahan said.

The state of Michigan requires an analysis to be in place for a city to get its full dispersion of Act 51 monies.

“Street maintenance is paid from Act 51 revenue, which we get from the state. The state collects it as part of vehicle registration fees and the tax on gasoline and diesel fuel,” said Johnson. “The revenue is shared with local governments on the basis of population and miles of major and local streets.”

Royal Oak does not currently spend any property tax revenue or any other general revenue on streets.

"Our low tax rate has never allowed for that," said Johnson.

City Manager Recommends Road Millage

Johnson recommends asking voters in November to authorize the city to levy up to 2.5 mills for 10 years for local road improvements.

“I’m suggesting this be a 10-year levy because it will take about that long to complete a road improvement project of this magnitude,” he said. “I fear a five year authorization would only let us do half the job before renewal and voters whose streets have already been fixed at that point will have no reason to vote for the renewal.”

Without a road bond or millage the only way to get a residential street repaved would be with a special assessment to pay for the improvements.

Source: City of Royal Oak
DianeKH May 18, 2014 at 10:21 AM
I see an option C in addition to Lisa's option A and B. Prioritize expenditures appropriately with essential services at the top of the list. Assuming roads are an essential, how about we start spending there first instead of spending on things like new toys for the police, logos, more employees for newly dreamed up "important" positions, etc. Revenues should be increasing because of new construction and rising assessments. There is an end to the taxpayer's "bottomless" pocket, and I think most of us can see it. Almost every one of us has had to cut back on our spending and reevaluate lifestyle choices. I do not see our elected officials doing the same.
DianeKH May 18, 2014 at 10:24 AM
And another thing. For those interested in seeing how our money is being spent, take a look at the claims section on the city commission's agendas. I went back over the last year of claims. Very enlightening.
RON Ostrodamus May 31, 2014 at 11:37 PM
In Royal Oak even the road to hell needs paving.

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