ST. JOSEPH — St. Joseph Township officials agreed Monday that many of the township’s roads need work and fixing them will be expensive.
But officials, meeting via online methods due to the coronavirus, also agreed that now may not be the time to ask voters to approve a road millage, as many residents are likely hurting due to the outbreak and the economic fallout. Road funding was on Monday’s agenda for discussion only, and the board agreed to delay any action for now.
“We’ve got to come up with a funding source for our roads,” Township Supervisor Roger Seely told trustees at their noon workshop meeting. He said neighboring Lincoln Township and Royalton Township have had designated road funds for years, while St. Joseph Township pulls money from its general fund for its roads.
Township Manager Denise Cook said a recent study concluded that 68 percent of the township’s roads are considered to be in poor condition. She said legally, the township can levy up to 3 mills of tax for roads without a vote of the people.
“But I don’t know that that’s a good idea,” she said. Seely agreed, and said if a millage vote is proposed, the township would need to have a Plan B in mind in case it fails.
“It’s certainly a big challenge and I was hoping we wouldn’t have to go for a road millage,” he said. “But I also don’t want dirt roads 10 years from now.”
Trustee Tom Milnikel said he thinks there would be a fair amount of dissent among residents if asked for more tax money any time soon.
“I think that, psychologically, we could have an issue, unless we’re going to give something up,” he said.
Trustee Dave Vonk said he, too, would like to study the matter further before taking any action.
At Monday’s evening meeting, the board did approve an agreement to pay Wightman a fixed fee of $8,100 to complete the township’s Transportation Asset Management Plan, which is part of a Community Wide Asset Management Program needed to complete a capital improvement plan.
Also Monday, the board approved a 2020 road agreement between the township and the Berrien County Road Department to resurface roads in the Tucker Drive subdivision to include Tucker Drive, Westwood Drive, Heights Drive, Field Drive, Wadena Road, LcLin Road, Carley Lane and Valley Lane, totaling 1.73 miles.
The estimated cost is $230,913, and the road department will match $103,186, leaving the township’s share at $127,730, Cook said.
In another matter, the board approved an update to the St. Joseph Charter Township Municipal Support Emergency Operations Plan to be used in conjunction with the Berrien County Emergency Operations Plan, naming Police Chief Randy Leng as the township’s emergency management liaison.