Road millage heads to ballotPublished 2:49pm Thursday, December 8, 2011
ST. JOSEPH — It is up to voters now to decide whether a countywide road millage will be used to fund road maintenance projects in Berrien County.
The Berrien County Board of Commissioners voted 10-3 in favor of placing the road millage on the November 2012 ballot during Thursday’s regular meeting. Jon Hinkelman, District 2, Dave Pagel, District 9, and Cathy Thieneman, District 5, were dissenting.
The six-year 0.5 mill levy would generate approximately $3.4 million a year to compensate for the increased cost of materials and a decrease in funding from the state gas tax.
The millage would cost a property taxpayer an additional 50 cents per $1,000 of taxable value. Twenty-nine of the 39 municipalities within the county have indicated their support for placing the millage on the ballot.
John LaMore, representing District 12 and Niles Township, said he prefers an increase to the gas tax over the proposed millage. However, he said state legislators have been “sitting on their hands for decades.”
“The straw that breaks the camel’s back is coming real soon,” he said. “I want to see this, us, stand up even though it is not the best thing, but it is something we can control, something we can do.”
Mac Elliott, representing District 11, said he isn’t in favor of the millage, but believes its fate should be decided by the vote of the people.
“I hope the powers in Lansing will recognize that it is disingenuous to say we didn’t raise your taxes, but we did force you to raise them locally in order to meet a funding shortfall,” he said.
Hinkelman voted against the millage, saying it is unjust to place the burden of raising extra money for roads on property taxpayers. He also said it is the state’s obligation to make decisions regarding funding for roads, not the county’s.