By Tom Gilchrist
For The Advertiser
DAYTON TWP. — This township’s 1,453 registered voters could see a proposed tax increase on the ballot later this year to pay for road work, according to Supervisor Robert Cook.
“We’re all leaning that way,” Cook said, when asked if the five members of the township Board of Trustees would place a proposed property-tax hike in front of voters.
Board members discussed the issue at their meeting Monday night. Township residents currently pay a 1-mill tax for roads raising almost $49,000 per year.
But the rising cost for laying asphalt on roads concerns board members including Cook, who said the township will pay about $79,000 to repave one mile of Mayville Road this year.
“If we continue to pay $79,000 per mile for asphalt, that can’t happen,” Cook said.
Upon questioning from township resident Rod Merten, Cook said the township used $70,000 of its money to “make this budget” for the fiscal year that started April 1.
Merten referred to the township’s decision to use that $70,000 as a “deficit,” though Cook disagreed with that term.
“We had a balanced budget,” Cook said. “Did we use $70,000 to have that budget? Yes.”
Merten kept the discussion going.
“How many more years do you think we can do this little game?” Merten asked.
Cook replied the township is “not going to do that every year.”
“It sounds like a deficit to me, because if you don’t have that surplus, you’d have to do something else,” Merten said. “You won’t have the surplus forever if you keep on using it.”
Cook said he doesn’t disagree, noting the township “took that $70,000 to make the budget, so it won’t be a deficit unless we spend more than what the original budget that we had in March, that we use.”
Township Treasurer Eleanor Kilmer said Dayton Township is “very solvent for a township.”
Trustee James Satchel, stressing the township must maintain its asphalt roads, asked if legal authorities would allow the township to ask voters for a 2-mill tax increase for roads later this year.
“They would probably allow you, but I imagine we’d get hung,” Cook replied.
“Our residents wouldn’t be too happy,” Clerk Stacy Phillips said. “Paying two mills on top of the one mill they’re already paying?”
Resident James McMinn suggested the township board could gain favor with voters by seeking a quarter-mill or half-mill increase rather than a 1-mill or 2-mill tax hike.
That way, McMinn explained, “People will … say ‘Well geez, they must really be watching this carefully, and they’re trying their best,’ and they’ll support the extra quarter or half mill, before they (approve a larger increase).”
Satchel said McMinn’s approach makes sense. “But we’ve got to do something because we’re gonna be down this road next year, and if we’re not careful, we’re going to be talking about grinding up pavement.”
Cook said the township isn’t going to do that.
Resident Richard Seidler advised that if the board seeks a tax increase, creation of a three-year plan listing where the township proposes to spend money on roads “would be a heck of a selling point” with voters.
At Monday’s meeting, township leaders told of plans to spend $112,000 this year on improvements to the following spots: Harmon Lake Road, Shaw Road, Plain Road south of Mayville Road, Bogt Road, Phelps Lake Road east of Cat Lake Road, Pattison Road, and Phelps Lake Road east of Lee Hill Road for one mile. The $112,000 cost includes paving one mile of Mayville Road.