For the Lake Township trustees, economic conditions have a direct effect on road conditions.
Much of the discussion during the trustees’ meeting last Tuesday focused on a property tax levy due to expire at the end of the year that funds the township’s road repair program.
Major repairs and resurfacing to several roads, including Isch and Wagner roads, are needed, said Melanie Bowen, who chairs the board of trustees, but revenue generated by the township’s 1-mill, 5-year road district levy is overwhelmed by the costs of repairs.
“We cannot continue to put these roads on the back burner,” she said. “And in these economic times we don’t want to ask for more money. But at what point are you being not responsible by not asking for more money?”
Last year, it cost the township about $60,000 a mile to repair roads, Bowen said, adding the trustees will be seeking input from residents on whether or not the millage should be increased.
If the levy is put on the November ballot as a renewal issue, it would continue to generate the same dollar amount as it did when originally passed.
If put on the ballot as a replacement levy, the millage would remain the same but would be calculated to collect on current property valuations.
A new levy for a higher millage amount would also reflect current valuations.
According to the Wood County Auditor’s office, the levy is currently generating $114,670 annually. If the trustees would replace the levy rather than seek renewal, it would generate about $189,615 a year based on the current valuation of the township.
Richard Welling, a trustee, said the levy was “extremely old” and hasn’t been adjusted to reflect current valuations since 1981.
“Costs have skyrocketed and we continue to fall behind,” he said.
When he became a trustee in 1998, the township on average completed three miles of resurfacing and repairs in a year. Since then, only about 1.5 miles get repaired annually – due to increased costs, Welling said.
Dan McLargin, the township’s road supervisor, will be asked to bring a prioritized list of needed road repairs to the June 15 meeting of the trustees, Bowen said.
Voters have strongly supported renewal of the levy in the past two elections when it garnered support of more than 60 percent.
The trustees face a deadline in August to place the issue on the November ballot.
The township’s road district encompasses unincorporated areas of the township.
The condition of Bahnsen Road also drew the attention of the trustees, who directed township administrator Mark Hummer to again contact the Wood County Engineer’s office to have the roadway repaired.
Bahnsen is a county road and has incurred significant damage, largely due to truck traffic to and from I-280, Hummer said.
Ron Sims, a trustee, said even a township emergency medical service vehicle had to have a tire replaced because of damage from a large pot hole in the road.
Hummer, on Wednesday, said he’s been in contact with the engineer’s office which told him the road would be repaired within a week.