Trustee questions road levy length
There is much uncertainty regarding state sources of funding for local roads. For example, the state motor vehicle fuel tax increase will begin this July, possible increases exist in distributions of local government funds and a possible increase for townships through motor vehicle license fees. These issues — coupled with continuity of township governance leadership — led me to oppose the November vote for 2.5 mill, 12-year road levy in Liberty. The levy will generate approximately $544,000 annually. I fully supported a 2.5 mill, five-year levy. Who can predict the future over a decade?
We approved a 12-year replacement levy and encumbered Liberty Township residents with a 12-year OPWC loan of $1.47 million, with payments of $122,480 annually. We don’t know how the above-mentioned increases in state funding may impact our need for local road taxes for 12 years. I suggested at our Monday meeting that, if possible, we pay off the OPWC loan in three years ($544,000 x 3 totals $1,632,000), allowing us to apply in years four and beyond for the full OPWC (up to 40 percent) match against our $544,000 tax revenues. This way, we would have no loss in OPWC funding and can use our full levy funds for current needs.
We will lose much of the OPWC match this year that we benefited from the past 10 years due to the issuance of this loan. Liberty Township residents should know with the loan taxpayers will be paying, the full repaving costs this year will come from their taxes rather than leveraging our tax money with OPWC grants. We were able to secure only a $75,000 grant (5.1 percent) this year. And had we utilized just levy money and leveraged it with maximum OPWC funding in year one and two, we could have paved more Liberty roads without incurring any debt.
By borrowing and repaying the loan at $122,480 annually, are we giving up OPWC matching funds for the next 12 years, totaling $979,000 ($81,600 per year) that we could have received if we were not repaying the debt service?
Will trustees be able to rescind the levy in the future if it no longer is needed? Necessary paving in years two and three can be accomplished with existing road and bridge funding supplemented with additional revenues from the new gasoline tax. If increases in receipts from the gasoline tax, local government fund and a possible license fee increase eliminate the need for our local levy after year three, hopefully trustees will see fit to put this levy back on the ballot and rescind what may be an unnecessary tax. Thank you.
JODI K. STOYAK
Liberty Township trustee