ST. JOSEPH — Voters in St. Joseph Township on Tuesday approved a first-time request for a millage to help fund improvements to roads in the township.
The millage proposal got 3,669 yes votes and 2,421 voters were opposed.
The township will levy 0.75 mills for 10 years, from 2020 through 2029.
Township Manager Denise Cook said the millage will amount to 75 cents per every $1,000 of taxable value of a property. So a person with a taxable property value (roughly half of overall property value) of $100,000 will pay $75 per year, and someone whose taxable property value is $200,000 will pay $150 per year.
Cook said the millage will raise an estimated $338,327 in the first year toward maintenance and/or improvement of roads.
Before deciding earlier this year to put the issue to voters, township officials noted that funding from the Berrien County Road Department is not adequate to maintain the existing road system within St. Joseph Township, and that a good road system is vital to the economic well-being of the township and the safety of people who use the roads.
The decision was based on recommendations from Wightman consulting firm and Baker Tilly Municipal Advisors LLC.
According to Wightman, the results of a 2020 rating showed that just 12 percent of the township’s local roads are in good condition, 28 percent are in fair condition and 60 percent are in poor condition.
Tom Traciak, a municipal financial advisor from Baker Tilly, told the board that the township needs to raise at least $300,000 to $400,000 per year to spend on its roads over the next 10 years, and suggested a dedicated millage would be the way to go to raise the money.
The immediate goal is to bring 50 percent of the roads into good or fair condition, and that would not be possible without a road millage, Phil Doorlag of Wightman told the board.
Township officials noted that neighboring Lincoln Township and Royalton Township already levy road millages.