ELECTION PREVIEW: Ionia road repairs up for vote

By Cory Smith • Last Updated 12:01 pm on Monday, August 04, 2014

The overall poor standing of roads in Ionia County is no secret to anyone who has traversed a county road.

On Tuesday, voters will have the opportunity to voice their opinion on whether a millage is necessary to improve them.

Ionia County residents will vote on a request for 2 mills that, if approved, would raise approximately $3.1 million countywide for the county, city and village roads, streets and bridges, per year, totaling approximately $18.6 million over six years.

“The revenue generated will not fix the whole road problem in six years, but at least they will not be letting roads get worse for their families and communities,” said Ionia County Road Commissioner Albert Almy. “We have a road problem in Ionia County, a big one, and it has been coming and growing for several years.”

There are 390 miles of primary paved roads and 684 miles of gravel roads throughout Ionia County, and nearly 65 percent of the county’s paved roads are rated in poor condition by the state from many years of a lack of investment of funds.

Almy said 15 counties in Michigan currently have a road millage approved by voters, and now Ionia County, after much discussion and research, is looking that way.

According to Ionia County Road Commission Managing Director Dorothy Pohl, the owner of property with a taxable value of $100,000 would pay approximately $200 toward the millage, while the owner of property with a taxable value of $125,000 would pay $250.

According to a 2012 study by the Pavement Surface Evaluation and Rating (PACER) system, 77.7 percent of Ionia County roads are in poor condition, 15.2 percent are in fair condition and only 7.1 percent are rated in good condition.

If the millage were to pass, the estimated revenue that the city of Belding would receive is about $165,000 per year. All revenue collected from Belding residents would stay in Belding to be used for street and bridge work only.

The same PACER study showed that in Belding, 11.8 percent of streets in the city were in “good” condition, 33.4 percent were in “fair” condition and 54.7 percent were in “poor” condition.

According to Belding City Manager Meg Mullendore, those statistics from 2012 have not improved. She said over the period of six years the city would receive “at least” $970,000 in road funding.

“We would really start going to town, spending money, to make improvements to our streets,” she said. “We currently don’t receive much in funding.”

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