Trustees are trying to fix their roads, but are dealing with limited funding.
By SAMANTHA PHILLIPS
Some township residents believe they are being slighted because the roads they live on haven’t been resurfaced.
But township officials say they face a catch-22. The township is getting less funding from the state for resurfacing, and residents seem reluctant to pay higher taxes to get the job done.
Voters approved a five-year, 1.25-mill road levy in 2014 to resurface roads. The levy provided about $226,000 for the township to work with, and the township also was able to secure an Ohio Public Works Commission grant that totals almost $500,000 to improve roads.
The levy’s funding will end in 2019, so trustees must decide next year how they will obtain the money for their road-resurfacing projects, as fixing the 62 miles of roads in the township is one of their top priorities.
“It’s very hard to please everybody,” Trustee Jodi Stoyak said. “It’s hard to make a decision in the township and know that the person over here is going to be happy because their roads are going to be done. But this person over here is mad because they pay high taxes and haven’t had their road done.”
Pat Ungaro, township administrator, said they will probably need to renew the levy at a higher millage. He said finishing the road project will be a slow process that could take years.
If residents don’t vote for the levy, it could take even longer, unless they are able to secure enough state grants and bonds to finish the job, township officials added.
Ungaro said he would like for residents to participate in the process of selecting roads by having open hearings in which trustees share the assessments and residents give feedback.
Stoyak said the 2014 levy took three tries to pass, so it could be difficult to ask taxpayers to vote for a levy increase.
Gino Bidinotto, head of the road department, said he understands residents’ frustration their roads haven’t been fixed. He said his department must concentrate on the main roads first and then secondary roads.
“We have to have good main roads to keep traffic flowing,” he said. “You can’t explain to taxpayers why you chose a dead-end road that has five cars travel on it versus a primary or secondary road where you get an abundance of cars.”
The township’s road department drives through the township’s 62 miles of roads to evaluate them, ranking the roads on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the worst. They take into consideration how much traffic is on the road, how many houses are on them and how many side streets branch off them along with the conditions of the roads.
The crew then brings its report before the trustees to help them decide which roads should be prioritized.
“For the most part, we are staying on top of it,” Bidinotto said.
Arnie Clebone, who will start his position as trustee in January, went door-to-door talking to residents about the road situation, and he told Stoyak many of them were in favor of paying higher taxes to have nicer roads. Clebone said he would like to get all the roads finished at once, rather than finish them incrementally.
“I love the idea of getting them all done at once,” she said. “I think the roads are the biggest concern of people. But I don’t know if the township can afford that.”
Stoyak said once Republican John Kasich was elected governor, he cut local government funding to build up the state’s rainy-day fund, which she said is nearly $2 billion.
“It’s very upsetting. He [Kasich] reduces state tax but then locally, we have to raise our taxes to get the roads done,” she said.