By Sue Moore
Wakeshma Township will ask voters for a 10-year 3-mill road tax on the Nov. 6 ballot.
If approved, revenue from the tax would allow the Township to begin addressing some of the worst local roads in Kalamazoo County, according to Ben Fritz, a member of the township’s Road Committee.
“The road committee has looked at the quality of the local road network within the township for over a year and a half,” Fritz explained. “There were three public informational meetings held in August, September and October to discuss and hear questions and concerns from residents.”
“We cannot even afford to turn our local roads back to gravel based on the township’s current budget. There are so many poor-quality roads now,” added Randy Bartholomew, another road committee member.
The ballot question proposes a dedicated road millage of 3 mills, $3 per $1,000 taxable valuation, for the 10-year period beginning in 2019, ending in 2028.
It could be used only for local road repair, upgrades, construction, improvement and maintenance. Wakeshma Township has not proposed a local road funding initiative in the past and has the lowest rating of local roads among the county’s 15 townships, Fritz pointed out.
“This millage is a huge step towards a self‐sufficient local road fund. A yes vote would get the ball rolling on a long list of road projects which would take us through the 2028 construction season. Many residents feel the deteriorating local road network is one of the biggest issues in the township,” Fritz said. “With 30 to 40 years of doing nothing, it’s taking its toll and we need to get things back on track. If we keep going in the direction we have been heading most of our local roads will fail,” Fritz said.
Revenue from the millage would remain in Wakeshma Township and would be dedicated only to local roads. If voters don’t seize this opportunity, Fritz said, the Township and county Road Commission will be limited in their ability to improve the local road network, Fritz said.
Wakeshma Township has a page on its website dedicated to informing residents about the impact to the local road network. The Road Committee includes Bartholomew, Deb Brockway, Fritz, and Mike Finley.