Communities Doing Their Part To Fund Michigan Roads
As the Michigan Senate is expected to open the lame duck session this week
with discussions and possible action on road funding, the County Road
Association of Michigan is pointing out a significant increase in local
support for roads: 16 new countywide road millages over the past
“Over the last few years legislators have called on local governments to
“put some skin in the game” when it comes to funding their roads, and it’s
clear they have,” said Denise Donohue, director of the County Road Association
of Michigan. “Local governments are doing what they can to patch some holes
in Michigan's road funding checkbook. These local millages may slow the
bleeding in some locations, but they cannot replace adequate state
From 1936 to 2006 a dozen counties adopted a total of 13 countywide road
millages - about one every six years. Over the last eight years, 16 more
counties have passed countywide road millages. Several others have
attempted to pass millages and failed.
In this fall's General Election, three new countywide road millages were
adopted, one millage was increased and another new millage failed.
New millages passed in Eaton County by a 51 percent margin (1.5 mills for
12 years), in Otsego County by a 55 percent margin (1 mill for 10 years)
and in Ottawa County by a 58 percent margin (.5 mills for 10 years).
An increase of one mill over four years passed in Midland County with
59 percent support. Lapeer County’s effort to secure 1.85 mills for
six years failed with only 46 percent supporting the initiative.
“Michigan residents see the value in good roads and appreciate the work
done by county road agencies,” Donohue said. “Renewals typically pass by a
high margin – some by more than 80 percent.”
The County Road Association analysis shows that while local road millages
provide flexibility to allow counties to meet their diverse road needs and
to raise matching funds for federal road dollars, they are only a small
part of the solution. Eighty-five percent of Michigan road
funding comes from state and federal sources.
There is also a significant disparity between townships and counties on the
level of revenue they can generate through millages. While one mill
in some counties might generate sufficient revenue to pave a mile of road,
one mill in another would generate several million. Reconstructing a
mile of local road can cost $250,000; putting a one-inch asphalt overlay on
that same mile costs $50,000.
“We’ve talked about this issue in Lansing long enough,” Donohue said. “Now
it’s time for action. Michigan residents support high-quality roads.
Counties, townships, cities and villages are doing what they can at the
local level. Now is the time for Lansing to secure a comprehensive solution
that will support improvements to all Michigan roads. Our economy and the
quality of life for Michigan residents depend on good roads.”
The County Road Association of Michigan represents the interests of
Michigan’s 83 county road agencies that collectively maintain more than 75
percent of Michigan roads – more than 90,000 miles and the fourth largest
local road system in the nation.