Proposed FY 2018 RCOC Budget Presented at Public Hearing
BEVERLY HILLS, MI The Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) will presented its Fiscal Year 2018 budget during a public hearing at the Oakland County Board of Commissioners Auditorium, 1200 N. Telegraph in Pontiac, Michigan.
The proposed $146.9 million budget represents an increase of about $17.8 million compared to the $129.1 million 2017 budget adopted in September of last year. The 2018 proposed budget increased primarily due to an anticipated increase in state and federal road funding.
Federal funds are awarded on a project-by-project basis, and the amount RCOC receives tends to fluctuate from year to year. These funds can be used only for heavy construction projects and not for routine maintenance activities such as pothole patching, grading gravel roads, plowing, etc.
RCOC anticipates slightly more than $88 million in state road funding, compared to just over $78 million received in the current year. State road funding is derived primarily from state-collected fuel taxes and vehicle-registration fees.
These state dollars continue to represent RCOC's largest source of funding and its main funding source for operations. The anticipated increase is the result of the increased road-funding package enacted by the state Legislature in late 2015 which took effect in January 2017.
The proposed 2018 budget includes plans for approximately $49.7 million worth of road improvement projects such as road widenings, reconstructions, resurfacings and gravel road paving or work toward future road-improvement projects; $32.4 million for road maintenance efforts such as pothole patching, gravel road grading and salting and plowing in the winter; and nearly $12 million for maintaining traffic signs, signals, pavement markings and guardrails among other activities. The remainder of the budget is dedicated to operating expenses including customer services, vehicle maintenance, staff wages, buildings and grounds and administration.
"We are pleased to have new revenue coming in," RCOC Chairman Eric Wilson said. "In 2017, the new money went right into improved pavement and that will be the case again in 2018."
RCOC Vice Chairman Greg Jamian concurred. "Our Legislature finally enacted a road-funding package that is bringing in additional revenue," he said. "Even though it is not nearly enough to address decades of underfunding that led to the poor condition of roads," he added, "it is a step in the right direction."
Board Member Ron Fowkes added that the Board remains concerned about the second half of the funding package approved by the Legislature, which requires that the Legislature annually commit substantial state General Fund dollars to roads beginning in 2019. "We continue to be cautiously optimistic that the Legislature will appropriate $600 million yearly in addition to the funds from the increased gas tax and vehicle registration fees," he said. "The increase is nice this year. However, it does not make up for the past decade of declining revenue. That decline has meant reductions in our road-building and maintenance programs for a number years, so we continue playing a game of catch up while working within our financial ability."
During the public hearing, RCOC Deputy Managing Director/County Highway Engineer Gary Piotrowicz provided an overview of the 2018 Road Improvement Program (RIP) which includes next year's road construction projects. Among the planned projects are:
Widen and reconstruct Baldwin Road between Morgan and Gregory roads in Orion Twp. (continuation of project started in 2017)
Widen and reconstruct Dequindre Road between Long Lake and Burningbush Drive on the Troy/Sterling Heights border (continuation of project started in 2017).
Intersection improvement at Adams and Gunn roads in Oakland Twp.
Resurface Opdyke Road between Auburn and Perry on the Auburn Hills/Pontiac border
Reconstruct Tripp Road between Dixie Highway and Van in Groveland Twp.
A complete list of projects expected to be constructed in 2018 is attached. Projects are typically selected based on a detailed computerized road-assessment program combined with engineers' analysis. The decisions are often made years before work actually begins because of funding requirements.
"RCOC continues to improve the safety of our roads throughout Oakland County," RCOC Managing Director Dennis Kolar said. "We know that many roads still need improvement and appreciate the patience of our citizens and businesses as we continue to work through a very long needs list. The improving economy is putting people back to work and more traffic on roads increasing congestion. Unfortunately, funding has not kept up with population and job growth and the demands to widen roads."