RC seeks input on streets plan

ROGERS CITY – While reviewing a draft of Rogers City’s budget for 2013-14, city officials discussed a plan to increase taxes by one mill to fund local street repairs.

The increase would mean Rogers City would have an estimated $73,000 more per year to fix its crumbling roads, City Manager Mark Slown said. While city council members could raise the millage without putting the question to voters, they would like to hear from residents on whether they approve of the plan regardless.

“That’s why we’re not keeping it a secret,” he said. “We want to know from people if they want to do that.”

Rogers City’s road funds are just enough to keep up with routine maintenance, Slown said. Even then, it takes some help. For major streets – those that funnel traffic from neighborhood roads to highways and county roads – the city will have $225,000, including some money from the general fund. The state is allocating $162,000 of that from gas and weight tax revenues, and $45,000 of the budget comes from the Michigan Department of Transportation for maintenance on Third Street, which is considered a state trunkline.

Local streets get about half of that, at $120,000 per year, Slown said.

“It’s just not enough money in the local streets fund to do much maintenance,” he said.

Raising taxes by one mill would allow the city to do some much-needed repair projects, Slown said. Some, like a patching project on Michigan Avenue from Third Street to Lake Street, are on the draft budget.

Mayor Beach Hall, who couldn’t attend Monday’s budget workshop, said the idea for the tax increase was first proposed at city council’s March budget workshop.

“Heaven knows we’ve probably got $1 million worth of street repairs to do, probably $1.5 million and maybe even $2 million,” he said.

There has been some discussion of whether to use the millage hike to pay the debt on a bond issue, or to use the money on a year-to-year basis to pay for repairs, Hall said. He believes that most city council members don’t want to pursue a bond issue.

The budget will be voted on at city council’s May 21 meeting, Hall said. There will be a public hearing on it beforehand.

Overall, Rogers City’s financial situation is good, Slown said. The city has a 20 percent general fund balance, and expects to take in slightly more than it did last year. Revenues are expected to be at $1,841,241, compared to an estimated $1,811,897 last year.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at jtravis@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at www.thealpenanews.com.