Lansing needs to step up and provide adequate roads funding or else tell local governments they’re on their own, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said Monday.
Hackel blasted the Michigan Legislature’s 2015 “fix” that raised fuel taxes and driver registration fees, but generates far too little revenue for the state’s actual infrastructure needs. He made those remarks as Macomb unveiled a new online resource about county road conditions, and what it will cost to fix them.
Macomb County reports a total of 805 lane-miles of road and 44 bridges evaluated in “poor” condition. The estimated price tag to reconstruct, rather than simply patch, all that infrastructure: just over $1 billion.
By contrast, the Macomb County Road Commission brings in just over $137 million annually, including $56 million from the state, which funds county road commissions according to a formula that disproportionately favors less-populated areas of the state.
Hackel thinks the state needs to take a serious look at that formula, and find a way to actually generate more money for roads — but lawmakers have shown no appetite for that. In the meantime, “I got a $1 billion current problem right now without even talking about neighborhood roads that I got to resolve,” he said.
Hackel said that if the state wanted to grant him powers to take do what’s needed, “I will do it tomorrow. In fact I will fix the funding solution and fix the roads at the same time. But the question is, then why do we need the legislature if they’re unwilling to do what is their responsibility?”
The situation leaves local governments pondering millage proposals or other ways to raise money as their infrastructure systems crumble if the state does not act, Hackel said.
“This has been, always should be, a state responsibility. But if they’re not going to do anything, I guess it does put us in a position of having the board of commissioners locally take a look at it. And one I find to be very unacceptable. Be honest with us at the local level and the public that you refuse to do this.”
Hackel repeatedly insisted that local funding solutions would need to originate with legislative bodies. He said there is currently no formal plan to put a millage proposal before the Macomb County Board of Commissioners.