Legislation paves way for county to eliminate road commissions

There is mixed reaction over legislation that would allow county commissioners to take over road commission duties to save money.

The pair of bills passed by both the state house and senate are now heading to Governor Rick Snyder to be signed. It's part of a broader effort to save taxpayer money by consolidating government services.

State Representative Jon Switalski of Warren sponsored the bills that would make it easier for counties to dissolve their road commissions. Any savings could go towards fixing streets.

Rep. Switalski says, "In the county where I come from which is a county of almost a million people, we saved $400,000 eliminating the road commissioners. Smaller counties are going to save a smaller amount."

The Grand Traverse County Road Commission's five appointed members cost the county about $80,000 a year in salaries and benefits. Grand Traverse County Road Commission Chairman , Marc Kellar argues that any savings would be too small to make a real impact.

Kellar says, "There's a lot being said and kicked around about how much is being saved its miniscule if anything at all."

Grand Traverse County Road Commission Manager, Mary Gillis says "It's not a significant amount of our budget. Our budget is between $12-15 million but itâ??s the county board's decision."

Grand Traverse County Commissioners are willing to consider taking over road commission duties.

Ross Richardson says "If we can create efficiencies by eliminating the road commission we should look into it."

Emmet County Commissioners say the $21,000 a year it pays in salary isn't worth getting rid of its three road commissioners.

Emmet County Road Commission Manager Brian Gutowski says, "That amount of money wouldn't even fix a tenth of a mile of road."

Governor Snyder is expected to sign the legislation.

What do you think? Is the savings worth it? Leave your comments below.