This summer, Livonia will ask its voters to approve a 10-year tax that would pay for local road improvements in the city.
The city is responsible for 60.5 miles of major roads and approximately 312 miles of local streets. Voters last approved the road tax in 2012 and, according to the city, it paid for 74 miles of road repairs, nearly 5,000 trees and more than 5,400 sidewalk repairs. Voters first passed the tax in 2002.
“This program has been incredibly successful for the first 20 years,” said Councilman Scott Bahr.
City Council recently approved ballot wording that will go to voters on Aug. 2 in the gubernatorial primary election. It is asking for a levy of 0.89 mills, a slight increase from what residents currently pay in local road tax.
A mill equals $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value on a property. The assessed value is generally half of the market value of a house. So a homeowner with a home worth $200,000 would pay about $89 a year for this tax.
The city currently brings in about $3,552,000 a year from its 0.8773 mill tax. In 2012, voters approved a 0.89 levy that was reduced due to Headlee Amendment rollbacks. The Headlee Amendment requires municipalities to adjust mileage rates as property values increase.
The mile is not intended to finance the repairs of the departmental and national roads. Most of Livonia’s major roads like Haggerty, Merriman and Five Mile are under Wayne County jurisdiction. However, having a local road tax allows Livonia to partner with Wayne County to streamline repairs on county roads.
Livonia is however responsible for a few major roads including Schoolcraft Road and Newburgh Road.
“It’s critical for us to continue to maintain the streets on the subdivision,” said City Engineer Todd Zilincik. “In 40 years, these deteriorate or need repairs, so it’s an essential part of our toolbox to help keep the fight going.”
Priority areas where mileage will fund repairs this year include Schoolcraft Road and a section of West Chicago Road between Harrison and Inkster Roads.
Traffic alert:As MDOT kicks off major I-275 reconstruction project, commuters can expect delays
Quality of life:Livonia and Farmington Hills review walkable real estate trends to attract young residents
Return:Livonia’s beloved Spree festival is back after a two-year hiatus
Zilincik argued that a relatively low tax helps keep roads safe and saves drivers repair costs that can arise in the event of a large pothole. It reduces lawsuits related to roads and sidewalks.
If the mileage proposal fails, Zilincik believes the city should cut its road effort in half.
“There’s still no money to fix the roads, is there? ” he said. “He goes to Washington and then you have to beg and plead. But with that, people can come to the roads committee and we address those concerns.
“Ultimately, we all benefit from having good roads. It reduces accidents, improves safety and hopefully increases home values.”