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Posted on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 5:57 a.m.

Road Commission unveils $29.9 million budget for 2012

By Lisa Allmendinger

The Washtenaw County Road Commission unveiled a proposed 2012 operating budget of about $29.9 million, which shows expenses exceeding revenues by $1.5 million.

The proposed budget will be balanced by using a projected fund balance of $7.4 million.

With expected stagnant state funding and reduced federal funding as well as inflationary costs, the Road Commission staff is projecting additional $1 million deficits in both 2013 and 2014.

“We are on an unsustainable path,” said Steve Puuri, managing director, who recently announced he will retire in December.

With aging equipment and greatly reduced staffing levels, the condition of the county’s roads are not expected to get substantially better anytime soon.

Currently, he said, there are eight vacancies on staff and 15 more are expected by the end of the year and the Road Commission is currently negotiating contracts with its employees. The Teamsters contract expired in June and the union has “requested fact finding,” Puuri said.

“We’ve gone from 156 employees to 110 employees, which is back to 1960’s levels,” he said.

Ten people are expected to retire from the operations’ staff, three from engineering and two from administration.

Noticeably absent from the proposed budget is funding earmarked for the Road Commission’s annual overlay program and sealcoat/crack sealing programs in 2012.

These two maintenance programs have “been eliminated this year,” due to budget constraints in this proposed budget.

“Michigan Transportation Funds are expected to be flat this year,” said Dan Ackerman, finance director. The projection is $16.1 million, about the same as is anticipated for 2011.

The Road Commission’s trunkline maintenance agreement for snowplowing, mowing and patching with the Michigan Department of Transportation is budgeted for about $2.328 million in 2012. Anticipated revenues for 2011 are $2.95 million, but those final figures won’t be available until year-end.

“This is 4 percent below the budget from the previous year,” Ackerman said. Township contributions for 2012 are being estimated at $1.77 million, down from the $2.72 million this year. “Township contributions were robust this year,” Ackerman said.

“Other contributions,” from sources other than the state, federal government or townships, are expected to increase in 2012, Ackerman said.

He expects about $793,000 this year from those other sources and $1.58 million next year with includes $800, 000 from Washtenaw County Parks joint project with Dexter Village and the Metroparks’ for a border to border trail project.

Among the other planned projects for 2012 are:

  • Safety improvements for Waters Road, a gravel road that sees about 1,500 vehicles daily, in Lodi Township. The work will take place from Wagner Road to the township line at an estimated cost of $500,000.
  • Safety improvements for Arkona Road in Saline Township west of Jordan at a cost of $30,000.
  • Safety improvements for Carpenter Road in Pittsfield Township at the Packard Road intersection at a cost of $60,000.
  • Safety improvements on North Territorial Road at Whitmore Lake Road, which include a turn lane, in Northfield Township at a cost of $135,000.
  • An environmental assessment on State Road in Pittsfield Township from Ellsworth to Textile Road at a cost of $100,000.
  • Resurfacing of Werkner Road in Lyndon Township from M-52 to north of Waterloo Road at a cost of $175,000.
  • Resurfacing of Golfside Road in Pittsfield and Ypsilanti townships from Packard to Clark at a cost of $436,000.
  • Resurfacing of Ford Boulevard Phase II in Ypsilanti Township from Ecorse to Michigan Avenue at a cost of $282,000.
  • Bridge work on the Willis Road Bridge over Paint Creek in Augusta Township at a cost of $400,000.
  • Resurfacing of Plymouth Road in Superior Township from Dixboro Road to M-153 at a cost of $1.376 million.

Lisa Allmendinger is a regional reporter for She can be reached at



Thu, Nov 24, 2011 : 2:41 a.m.

I am not kidding about this statement--I have video to prove it----in the winter, the snow plow trucks on golfside in pittsfield township, will plow golfside back and forth ,--even when there is less than 1 inch of snow on the ground, the plow will create a giant spark on the road and the driver mostly in truck 337 will continue for at least 1 hr or more of just dry plowing this road---I am not suprised these folks are crying for more money--they have had a gravy train for as long as anyone can remember----I sure hope the folks who control the money , by-pass these make work guys---the ones in eastern washtenaw county are the most useless tax funded folks in the county, next to the washtenaw drain department---it is the one dept where you can get busted for drunk driving and still keep your 80,000 job---


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 8:48 p.m.

We are on an unsustainable path," said Steve Puuri, managing director, who recently announced he will retire in December. Has anyone else noticed a lot of government retirements being announced lately or is it just me? The rats are jumping off the ship and taking their pensions while they are still there. Or maybe they are all just too old to work anymore. No problem; the rest of us will work and pax taxes

Brian Kuehn

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 4:18 p.m.

There should be a discussion about combining the Road Commission with County operations. Surely there could be some savings through one set of administrators and the elimination of duplicate functions. If there are legal restrictions that force us to have these over-lapping governmental entities, then so be it. If there are no restrictions, however, a merger needs to be considered.

zip the cat

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 1:46 p.m.

There quality of repair work on county roads is just pittifull. They spent ALL day last week putting in a culvert maybe 16" in diameter under huron River Dr just south of gregory rd in webster township. My 2yr old grandson would do a better job than these so called county workers I guess they forgot to pack the fill dirt around the culvert and on top of it before paveing it because it caved in on the east side and now theres a big dip in the road. And while were at it WHY does it take so many workers to waste all day on such a trival job 5 guys standing around with there hands in there pockets and 1 or 2 doing something


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 4:20 p.m.

@Johnnya@ - I suspect "so-called" was meant to modify "workers", not "county."


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 2:44 p.m.

Yes, because you KNOW exactly what each of these people's job is and what they are required to do at any given time. I suppose if a firefighter is at the fire station watching TV he is wasting his time on a "trivial" job. If your grandson can do a better job, by all means have him apply. Finally, you use the phrase "so called county workers" They are clearly employed by the county, so there is no need for them to be "so-called" .


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 2:04 p.m.

There are open positions, please apply and let the staff know that you are willing to do the job for less pay and no benefits. We eagerly await our new county employee and the vigor you will be bringing to the job.

Basic Bob

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 1:31 p.m.

State Road widening will require the airport to shift the runway to the east. Also the city will be looking for Pittsfield to drop their opposition to the 800 foot runway expansion. Stonebridge residnts should keep an eye on this on as it impacts quality of life and home values. Who benefits from widening this road only as far as Textile?

Basic Bob

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 7:55 p.m.

I think the proposals are a 4-lane boulevard or 5 lanes with a center turn lane. Of course there will be room for bikes too.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 3:50 p.m.

Im not sure, but are they widening it for bike lanes?

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 11:45 a.m.

"Noticeably absent from the proposed budget is funding earmarked for the Road Commission's annual overlay program and sealcoat/crack sealing programs in 2012." That is a very bad way to "save" money. The roads will fall apart faster and will need to be reconstructed sooner at much greater cost!