Taxpayers may pay more for better maintained roads

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder plans to propose a more detailed plan to boost spending to maintain roads in next week's State of the State address.

Grand Traverse County Road Commision Manager, Jim Cook, said they spend nearly $300,000 per year on pot hole repairs. Their entire winter budget is between $2.5 and $3 million per year.

"If we have a mild winter we'll have more money available to fix our roads, but if we have a severe winter we have less money to fix our roads, so funding is always an issue," Cook said.

Cook said about 80% of Michigan's roads are in poor or bad condition.

Transportation funding is high on the Republican governor's agenda for 2013. His previous calls for an additional $1.4 billion a year for roads and bridges stalled in the Legislature.

Organizations supporting more transportation funding say the gap between what's spent to maintain roads and the amount of money needed to properly do the job grows every year.

Cook said most of the funding for the Road Commission comes from the $0.19 per gallon gas tax. The 83 Michigan counties split 40% of $0.18 from the gas tax. This funds almost all of the Road Commission's operations including winter and summer road maintenance.

Governor Snyder in 2011 called for replacing the 19-cents-per-gallon tax on gasoline with a tax on the wholesale price of fuel. He also suggested a source of new revenue could be higher vehicle registration fees.

Cook said in the future Grand Traverse County is going to ask for a millage. He hopes that it will help take care of the 1,200 miles of roads in the Grand Traverse County.

"Grand Traverse County is unique and really a special place in the state of Michigan and our roads do not reflect what a special place it is," Cook said.

Snyder said he'll present new specifics in his Jan. 16 speech.