Leighton worries 1 mill is not enough for local roads

The Leighton Township Board is looking at a chip seal and fog coat this year for 144th Avenue east of Kalamazoo Avenue, but worries have surfaced about adequate funding for local roads in the future.

The township also is considering work on 137th Avenue from Kalamazoo to Division this year, but the one-mill levy for roads already has been reduced by the Headlee Amendment to 0.9873.

Clerk Mary Lou Nieuwenhuis said officials will need to consider whether to seek a renewal of the 0.9873 mill or seek a restoration of the one mill on the August primary election ballot.

“Residents have been very generous in supporting our millages over the years,” she said, “but we’re going to have to decide next month.”

Leighton will have proposals for roads and public safety this year. One mill, according to Supervisor Steve Deer, generates about $220,000. He added that the chip seat and fog coat cost has been estimated at $25,000 and $100,000 per mile, respectively.

Treasurer Char Troost remarked, “It would be nice if we could ask residents for two mills… We have to take care of our roads.”

Trustee John Hooker said, however, “The more roads you have paved, the more you have to maintain them. If you can’t maintain them, don’t pave more roads.”

He added that the current millage levy actually is only handling repairs and maintenance.

Troost pointed to Salem Township, which has virtually eliminated gravel roads because of a five-mill levy that is renewed without much trouble.

In other business at Thursday night’s meeting, the Township Board:

• Agreed to a 2 percent salary increase after examining the Consumer Price Index. Troost and Clerk Mary Lou Nieuwenhuis both will be paid $26,173 annually, Supervisor Steve Deer will get $16,890 and Trustees Hooker and Brian Bonnema both will receive $2,973.

• Approved a special use permit request from Stoneco for gravel mining Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. 6 p.m. and 7 a.m. to noon Saturday.

• Decided to have a budget workshop at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 12, and set a public hearing on the fiscal year 2018-19 budget for 6 p.m. Monday, March 8.


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