Millage to fix Van Buren County roads fails for a second time

Millage to fix Van Buren County roads fails for a second time. (WWMT/Cyrus Raymond)

Leaders in Van Buren County face another bump in the road in their attempt to fix the county's failing infrastructure.

Van Buren County voters failed to pass a county-wide road mileage for a second time. The 12-year, 3.000 mill proposal to improve county roads was voted down by 63.5 percent of county voters Tuesday night.

"I'm not too worried about the roads personally," said Bangor resident Gerard Lewandowski.

Many county residents, like Lewandowski, didn't want to be taxed to fix the roads.

"It doesn't seem right. I shouldn't have to pay $3 for every $1,000 my property is worth just for the roads to be better, " Lewandoski said.

Nita Dale has lived in Michigan long enough to realize how bad the roads can be.

"I moved up here from Texas. These roads are terrible," Dale said.

Dale was one of the 10,470 Van Buren County residents who voted for the millage to fix county roads over the next 12 years. The proposal would have taxed each property owner $3 per $1,000 of assessed value.

"It was a big ask when you're talking 3 mils. Some folks couldn't flat out afford it, we understand that as well," said Van Buren County Road Commission managing director Larry Hummel.

The millage failed previously in August by a margin of less than 12 percent.

Hummel said the county has about 348 miles of primary roads. The majority of those are considered to be in failing, or poor condition.

"Sixty-seven percent of our primary road system is in 'poor' condition," said Hummel.

Hummel said if the millage passed. a stretch of road on County Road 390 near County Road 665 outside Bloomingdale would of received a much needed fix.

"It could have taken our program to that much more of a level. We could have addressed a lot more of those issues," Hummel said.

Instead, Hummel said primary roads in the county will continue to decline and more paved roads may have to be turned back into gravel to keep them safe.

"We're better off and safer off for the public to have something we can maintain, be it gravel or not," Hummel said.

Hummel said the road commission will consult their board about if and when they try for another millage proposal.

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