Township Board approves potentially precedent setting (and costly) policy on Road maintenance

The Township Board approved spending $40,000 of funds from the ‘general fund’ to improve the gravel road portion of Silverbell Road at the September 9, 2014 Board meeting.  The Board approved spending this money by a 4 to 3 margin.  

Treasurer Langlois expressed concerns regarding:

  • the lack of having a comprehensive plan for our Township Road improvements that would ensure we were addressing the most critical roads,
  • the use of ‘general funds’ for this project, and
  • the precedent setting action of the Township assuming responsibility for the safety of the roads.  The Oakland County Road Commission has that responsibility.

This decision may cost the Township ‘dearly’ in the future.

At the September 9, 2014 Oakland Township Board meeting, Supervisor Gonser stated that the Road Commission had contracted for enough limestone to improve about one additional mile of gravel roads in Oakland Township. This limestone was in addition to the improvements that occurred on Dutton Road this year.

Road improvements in our Township (above and beyond what is required for safety) have historically been covered by what is called tri-party funds.  The dollars for these improvements come from three sources, 1/3 from the Road Commission, 1/3 from the County and 1/3 from Oakland Township (hence the name tri-party fund).   In other words, our dollars are ‘leveraged’.  The cost for the Dutton Road improvements was also shared between Oakland Township and Rochester Hills.  That improvement was totally covered by tri-party funds from both communities.

The cost for the additional mile of limestone could not be totally covered by the remaining 2014 Oakland Township tri-party funds.  It would require an additional $40,000 from Oakland Township’s ‘General Fund’.  Supervisor Gonser wanted to authorize the Road Commission to purchase and use the limestone on Silverbell road in response to safety concerns raised by citizens.

Treasurer Langlois indicated she was not in favor of using Township ‘General Funds’ to improve road safety when road safety was the responsibility of the Road Commission.  She also pointed out that the Township’s road improvement planning has deteriorated since we lost our previous Township manager.  Treasurer Langlois, Trustees Buxar and Bailey all expressed disappointment that a more comprehensive plan had not been developed that would ensure the most critical roads in the Township were being addressed.

The Township Board voted on the motion to purchase the limestone, and it passed with Gonser, Reilly, Thalmann and Giannangeli supporting the motion.  Langlois, Buxar and Bailey being the dissenting minority.

Here is a video of Treasurer Langlois’ concerns with this motion:

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The use of general funds for road improvements to eliminate safety concerns could be a precedent setting action.  The Road Commission may now look to the Township to pay for future road improvements that they consider safety related. Until now, the Road Commission has been responsible for safety.  The Board’s decision may cloud that responsibility going forward. If the Township becomes responsible for road safety, our taxes will certainly increase to cover those costs.

The politically expeditious decision by Supervisor Gonser, Clerk Reilly and Trustees Thalmann and Giannangeli may cost the Township dearly in the future!

Richard Michalski


4 thoughts on “Township Board approves potentially precedent setting (and costly) policy on Road maintenance

  1. Robert Yager

    Richard – Thank you for making us aware of this issue. I was not aware of it until you reported it and it is a very significant issue of importance to all township residents.

  2. saveourtwp

    Really? I have not authorized MY property tax dollars to go to road maintenance, that is what the RCOC is charged to do. This is out of order. This wreaks of a quid pro quo. $40,000 going to a sub, that I think only has about 13 homes? If ANY roads were to be helped with unauthorized tax payer dollars, then it should have been done FAIRLY with equal representation for all residents and all roads and with a PLAN. Not merely for a select few who may or will contribute to campaign funds. What about Hugger Elementary School, the dirt roads around that school are so bad, that school ALONE has had to close due to impassable roads by the busses. Kids were actually flying out of their seats and hitting their heads! This is so wrong. More ammunition in 2016.

    So can we expect that the RCOC got the message from Gonser that this “$40,000 won’t break our bank” so the RCOC can target maintenance fund dollars on other communities who are not as wealthy? Really? Unprecedented and incredibly harmful to the Township overall in the short and long term, and all for a short term gain for a select few. Disgraceful.

  3. Al Trudeau

    I think Treasurer Langlois hit the thumb right on the nail in her assessment of the problem with using Township ‘General Funds’ to improve road safety when road safety was the responsibility of the Road Commission.

  4. foulkrj

    I just drove Silverbell from Orion to Adams and it had been graded and new gravel put down. GRAVEL NOT LIMESTONE. So where did the $65,000 go ($25,000 Tri-Party funds plus $40,000 from our General Fund)?

    Gonser said that there was a mile’s worth of LIMESTONE left over from the Dutton road resurfacing that was done in August and the Board needed to act immediately to get that material for Silverbell. It was not used on Silverbell. The limestone improved Dutton’s surface greatly. We have had three major rainstorms since and they did much less damage to the road – less erosion, cross road gullying and storm water runoff. Silverbell was done with gravel and will be a mess after the next rainstorm. The 23A Limestone that RCOC used on Dutton may have cost as much as 2 times as much per ton as the 23A Gravel on Silverbell. The Board of Trustees needs to give us answers.
    Jim Foulkrod


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