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!