Residents to help push for Liberty road issue

LIBERTY – Despite residents voting down similar levies in the past two general elections, township officials believe the May primary offers a unique opportunity for a ”resident-driven” campaign to fund a department in desperate need of an infusion of money.

Trustees voted unanimously during a special meeting Wednesday to place the new five-year, 1.25-mill road levy on the May 8 ballot. The final necessary vote to put the levy on the ballot will take place 10 a.m. Monday at the township Administration Building.

“We’ve had lots of petitions coming in,” Administrator Pat Ungaro said. “I’m not an election specialist, but it only lost by about 200 votes the last time, and this has a lot of community support behind it.”

The levy failed in November, with 44 percent of the voters for it to 56 percent against.

After road levies failed in 2013 and 2012, Trustee Jodi Stoyak said township officials were not necessarily going to try again this soon, but public outcry over the condition of the roads was the deciding factor.

“All of the trustees received emails, letters and phone calls from people complaining about their particular roads,” Stoyak said. “I asked them, ‘Did you vote for the levy?’ Because, obviously there wasn’t enough the last time.”

Liberty roads badly in need of repairs, according to Stoyak, include Tibbetts Wick Road and Mansell Drive. Residents in these two areas were instrumental in getting this road levy on the primary ballot.

Stoyak was the lead trustee in putting together the November 2013 road levy proposal but this time around, voters will do much of the legwork.

“It’s a different thing when it is resident-driven,” Stoyak said.

If passed, the levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $35 a year and bring in about $266,000 to the township solely for resurfacing roads.

Officials said cuts in state funding, along with the elimination of the personal property and estate taxes have left the township with virtually no funding for resurfacing roads. Liberty has no road levy.

“It is very frustrating situation because all of our roads really need repair,” Stoyak said. “You can only patch so much, and that is just a temporary fix.”

Ungaro made it clear that, once again, resurfacing projects are unlikely without this millage.

“The good thing is, if it does pass, maybe I could double the principle with grant money,” he said. “We could do a lot of streets in that case.”

Ungaro said the township will likely hold informational meetings on the levy at some point in the coming months.