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Posted on Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Scio considers township-wide solution to fund its own road repairs

By Amy Biolchini

Scio Township is considering the development of a township-wide special assessment district to fund its own road repairs.

Officials have been discussing the measure for a long time, said Supervisor E. Spaulding Clark.


Repairs on local roads in Scio Township could be funded by a township-wide special assessment district. file photo

The township’s roads are maintained by the Washtenaw County Road Commission, using funding received by the commission that is spread throughout the entire county on a schedule as the commission sees fit.

A special assessment district for the entire township would mean each parcel owner would contribute the same amount of funding to repair of a set list of road projects in the township.

It would be the first of its kind in Washtenaw County, said Roy Townsend, managing director of the road commission.

Typically, special assessment districts are created by a cluster of homeowners -- commonly in specific subdivisions -- that want to fund road repairs in their neighborhood.

The creation of a district that would encompass the entire township brings some legal questions the township and the Washtenaw County Road Commission are working out, Clark said.

Talks of increasing road funding at the state level -- if they’re enacted -- will likely only translate into increased financial support for projects on state routes, Clark said.

“The state’s talking more money for roads, but they’re talking about primary roads,” Clark said. “It certainly won’t get filtered down to the roads that need it.”

Townsend said the special assessment district is a good way to ensure taxpayer dollars are directed to fixing the roads that those individuals use everyday.

A county-wide millage for local road work would be difficult to allocate to each township - as cities like Ann Arbor already pay their own tax for road improvements, Townsend said.

The intent is to create a pool of funding to fix the roads that people in the township use on a daily basis, Clark said.

Initially, township officials discussed collecting $80 or $85 per year from each parcel owner in the township, regardless of the size of the parcel.

A rate of $80 would result in a pool of money totaling about $4.9 million, Clark said.

The township may be able to bond against that money as well, Clark said.

The township Board of Trustees passed an initial measure Tuesday night declaring its intent to pursue the special assessment district.

Clark and Scio Township will be conferring with the Washtenaw County Road Commission to develop a model that will work.

Public hearings and a full presentation on the special assessment district will be conducted once the township develops that model, Clark said.

Because of Public Act 188, the township could implement the special assessment district without the approval of the vote of the people.

Scio Township has drafted a list of 29 roads with a combined length of 25 miles that would be repaired using the special assessment district.

“Up front, you’re going to have to tell people where there money is going,” Clark said, explaining that otherwise there likely wouldn’t be much support for the idea.

Gravel roads on the list include:

  • East Delhi Road from the railroad tracks to Miller Road
  • Knight Road from Scio Church to Liberty
  • Liberty Road from Park to Parker; from Zeeb to Stags Leap to Park
  • Maple Road from Stein to Daleview; from Stein to the township line
  • Marshall Road from Baker to Marshall Lakes Drive to Zeeb; from Parker to Baker
  • North Delhi Road from Huron River Drive to Eastgate
  • Park Road from Scio Village Court to West Birkdale to Parkland Plaza; from Zeeb to Liberty
  • Peters Road from Zeeb to Miller
  • Pratt Road from West Delhi to Wagner
  • Railroad Street from West Delhi to East Delhi
  • Scio Road from Zeeb to Dexter-Ann Arbor
  • Staebler Road from the pavement south to Park
  • Stein Road from Tubbs to Maple
  • Streiter Road from Liberty to Scio Church
  • Tubbs Road from Huron River Drive to Stein
  • West Delhi Road from Dexter-Ann Arbor to Miller to Railroad Street

Paved roads on the list include:

  • East Delhi Road from Huron River Drive to the railroad tracks
  • Park Road from Zeeb to Scio Village Court
  • Scio Ridge Road from Liberty to Upland
  • Staebler Road from Jackson Road south to the end of the pavement
  • Upland Drive from Scio Church to Scio Ridge

Roads within the village of Dexter would not be covered by the township’s special assessment district, and those residents would not be asked to pay the yearly rate.

Washtenaw County Townships.gif

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 5:18 a.m.

Wow! Lets review. Our roads suck because they are not maintained properly. Probably not built properly to begin because of the use of inferior materials, overpaid labor, lack of quality control, misuse of funds, corruption, and no accountability. So the fix is to arbitrarily take more money from homeowners who aren't getting their money's worth now. Wow! How about performing a complete independent audit of all of the above first?


Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 3:39 p.m.

Snapshot, I believe that you have managed to blame the government, unions AND private business for the weather. A freeze/thaw climate will destroy roads. Any road built in the Midwest, even with the very best materials by the most experienced and honest contractors, will still turn to rubble in 10-15 years if not regularly maintained. No road-- public or private, not even a driveway-- lasts forever. Independent audits don't repair roads.

Ann English

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 1:07 a.m.

Amy, What do you mean by "township line," in the context of Maple Road from Stein to the township line? Joy Road to the north? I know we don't have a straight road marking our northern edge, but north (and in some places, south) of Joy Road are Webster and Northfield Townships.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 12:52 a.m.

I think Scio Township Supervisor, Spaulding Clark, has nailed it! Any road funding increase coming from Lansing will deal with state roads. Local roads will need local financing for improvement. I drive the roads in the Polo Field and they're in perfect condition. Thank you Scio Township and the Road Commission. 99.99% of Scio residents can afford $80.00 per year. This is realistically the only way to improve our roads. For those Scio Township residents currently being specially assessed for roads, we need a guarantee that our newly improved, self financed roads, will also benefit from this assessment. Can Lew Kidder address this issue. And yes, I don't use Delhi road, but it is in my township and I know this road needs to be fixed to help my fellow residents and improve the general road system in Scio. Let's work together and examine the plan. From my recent experience, I have confidence in the Township and the Road Commission to improve our roads.

Lew Kidder

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 4:43 p.m.

The proposed township-wide SAD would include funding for maintenance over the ensuing ten years for (a) all 27 miles of the local public road connectors and (b) all neighborhood public roads which have been, or will be, upgraded by virtue of local SADs. As it stands now, neighborhoods already eligible would include the Polo Fields, Uplands of Scio, Scio Hills, Wing Meadows, Jackson Plaza, and Aprill Drive. Two more neighborhoods are set to join that list in 2013: Parkland Plaza/Little Lake Drive and Newman Boulevard. And two others are close to submitting their own requests.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 12:37 p.m.

We're sick and tired of the never-ending cries for new taxes from all levels of government, whether it be a tax increase of 8 cents, $8.00, or $8,000.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 8:41 p.m.

Rocket science!

concerned citizen

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 7:53 p.m.

If "A county-wide millage for local road work would be difficult to allocate to each township " how will our special tax be used only for Scio? It isn't any harher to seperate out a county wide tax than it would be to seperate out a special tax. It is all billed by each Township and the press of a few buttons would split it out. If the county wasn't fixing the roads illegally used by trucks they would have enough money to keep up the roads without us having to pay fextra for it.

Lew Kidder

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 5 p.m.

There is ample statutory authority for a county-wide solution, and you are right: there would be no real problem regarding allocation. The only impediment is political will at the county level.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 7:32 p.m.

I am assuming that the gravel roads will not be paved, but only repaired (maybe extensive rebuild of the foundations/drainage). Is this the idea, or is the funding for something even more ambitious?

Lew Kidder

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 4:56 p.m.

You are right: most of the 27 miles of local connector roads will get a basic upgrade: 6" of new material (gravel or limestone), spot ditching, grading into a proper crown, compacting, and dust control. Two problem sections will get additional treatment: North Delhi, from Huron River Drive up the steep hill to Eastgate; and the section of West Liberty Road which regularly disappear under water. The SAD would also provide funds for maintenance on all these roads for the ensuing ten years.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 6:31 p.m.

West Delhi which backs into 94 is almost impossible. The citizens have to stand up and spend a few dollars to protect their autos from broken tires and axkles.

concerned citizen

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 5:04 p.m.

If we were to pay extra who is going to enforce the truck rules? Not the county, they don't have the man power and won't enforce the rules against their friends. Will all these roads be made "NO TRUCK" roads? Bateson Farms has used several of these roads with overloaded gravel haulers for years. He also drives Parker even though it is NO TRUCKS on weekends and after 5 PM and gets away with it. I know he has moved to Lima on Scio Church that is also No Trucks. He has torn up Parker at Liberty over the years of use and the County patches it and does nothing to stop the misuse. He has also graded Liberty Road in Lima and that was ok with the county. See what they say if you try to grade one of THEIR roads! What we need first is to make all of these roads NO TRUCKS and enforcement of it. After that we could consider paying taxes to keep them up. Who will we be paying to do the up-keep with the extra money? Will they be the county drivers who park in the middle of Liberty at Parker (in Scio) and talk to their friends in a personal car, blocking the road for 10 minutes as the one did last week? Even blowing a horn didn't move the driver! Maybe we don't need more money, just the supervised use of what we have.

Ann English

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 12:44 a.m.

I'm pretty sure I've seen a NO TRUCK sign at Joy and Zeeb, put where eastbound drivers on Joy Road can see it. Some trucks must use these roads, such as GARBAGE trucks. Call DTE vehicles trucks? What about UPS/FedEx trucks? What kinds of trucks are prohibited by signs, freight trucks? Certainly 18-wheelers!

Jared Mauch

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 4:52 p.m.

What about border roads, eg Parker?

Ann English

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 1 a.m.

Parker Road is an important one to be maintained, all right, for those working at or attending Dexter High School. But the high school itself is in Precinct #1, which is Dexter Village.

Ann English

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 12:34 a.m.

Maple Road is the eastern border road, and it is on the list. Scio Church Road is the southern border road. It's possible that Parker is on the list of paved roads; a partial list of roads is given, headed by, "Paved roads INCLUDE..." meaning it isn't exhaustive. I wonder if any parts of Joy Road will be on the list of gravel roads. That list gives roads INCLUDED. No claim to being a complete list. Joy Road is straight, east of Whitmore Lake Road, but not straight west of Whitmore Lake Road, all the way to Dexter, so it doesn't stay in either Scio or Webster Township.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 2:49 p.m.

Lets get it done. These back roads are a mess.

Lew Kidder

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 2:19 p.m.

These are roads that haven't had new gravel or limestone for years, but tie the odds and ends of the township together. A few examples (from among hundreds): **Belong to the Huron Valley Swim Club? You must use Park Road. **Live in any of the subs near Scio Church & Oak Valley and want to shop at the Krogers on Maple? Or rent equipment from A-1? Or take your pet to the vet? You have to use Scio Ridge. **Live in Loch Alpine & want to shop at Busch's in Dexter? Most will go west on Huron River Drive, south across the bridge on Zeeb, and then cut through Scio Road to Dexter-Ann Arbor. **Got kids who ride the bus to school in Dexter? Buses all come from the garage on Marshall. **Picnic at Delhi Metropark? You have to use East Delhi. **Live in any of the subs near Zeeb & Pratt? You use Pratt and/or West Delhi if you are headed east on M-14. **Live in Scio Farms & attend the Lutheran church on Scio Church Road? Out the back door to Staebler, right on Park, right on Liberty, left on Streiter.

Ann English

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 12:53 a.m.

A picnic at Delhi Metropark doesn't need to use much of East Delhi, if you approach it from the north. A few years ago, the Delhi Bridge was replaced with a new bridge, and I had to give others directions on how to get to the metropark from the south. But yes, the park itself IS on East Delhi Road.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 8:38 p.m.

While some of these may be the most direct route, they are not necessarily the best, fastest or most used routes.

Long Time Resident

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 2 p.m.

An $85 tax is not going to break anyone's bank. Given the deplorable condition of the unsaved roads, we will all save money in the end through lower repair costs.


Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 5:11 a.m.

I love you folks with money to burn and the way you impose your concept of financial equity upon all property owners without regard. Maybe you need to lose your job and then have folks continue to increase your cost of living with their uninformed concept of "affordability". What arrogance. 85.00 is a one fourth of my insurance cost. Should I drivbe without insurance to satisfy your concept of affordability?


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 2:08 p.m.

Agreed! And beyond the out-of-pocket cash there is the time wasted most every year waiting in the shop for realignments, re-balancing, tire repair and suspension fixes. Not to mention the mud...


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

Unbelievable. Get rid of the County Road Commission instead. Most states have done that. ".... as cities like Ann Arbor already pay their own tax for road improvements, Townsend said." You can see what good that has accomplished.

Amy Biolchini

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 3:15 p.m.

justcurious, when you say get rid of the road commission, are you talking about the three-member road commission board of trustees (who cost about $31,500/year total) or the entire road commission staff, trucks, etc?


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 1:39 p.m.

Hey, Township! Why isn't Little Lake Drive on the list of paved roads? Those residents (all the co-housing folk) have been discussing an SAD for quite some time.

Lew Kidder

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 2:04 p.m.

That SAD is on its way to approval. Little Lake Drive will be rebuilt & repaved later this year, along with Parkland Plaza Drive and Haeussler Court.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 1:20 p.m.

Perhaps, Ann Arborites, if we didn't have 50% of you driving on the roads with foreign made vehicles (and the rest of the state/nation), Michigan may have a larger tax base to make these repairs. But hey, whatever makes you proud to support your countries economy.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 3:32 p.m.



Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 8:31 p.m.

clownfish I guess you debunked that argument. Bravo!


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 3:07 p.m.

2012 Honda Crosstour Assembled: East Liberty, Ohio Percentage Made In U.S.: 80% 2012 Honda Accord Assembled: Marysville, Ohio Percentage Made In U.S.: 80% 2012 Toyota Sienna Assembled: Princeton, Ind. Percentage Made In U.S.: 80% 2012 Toyota Avalon Assembled: Georgetown, Ky. Percentage Made In U.S.: 85% that makes the Avalon the MOST "American made" car. What is your criteria for " foreign made"? "Jeep's Patriot may be built in Belvedere, Ill., its transmissions originate in Mexico, Japan and Germany. Similarly Ford's Michigan-assembled Mustang may be as American as mom, Marines, and apple pie, but its transmissions come from China, France, the U.K., and Mexico. Chrysler's PT Cruiser isn't even built in the U.S. – it's assembled in Toluca, Mexico, though its transmission is U.S.-sourced. GM, meanwhile, builds its Chevy Camaro in Canada and its GMC Sierra pickup in Mexico. Ford's Fusion, Fiesta, and Lincoln MKZ models are built in Mexico, while the Edge, Flex, Lincoln MKX, and Lincoln MKT are built in Canada. GM vehicles assembled in Canada include Chevrolet's Camaro, Equinox and Impala and the GMC Terrain, while vehicles built in Mexico include Cadillac's SRX and Escalade EXT, Chevrolet's Aveo, HHR, Silverado, and GMC's Sierra. "-

average joe

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 1:04 p.m.

Even though I am against adding another 'layer of government', maybe they should take it to the next step and be their own contractor and have this work done by an outside private company. I find it sort of ironic that the township who is home to the county road commission has to consider creating a special district to repair their roads.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 12:50 p.m.

On of the advantages of the SAD is its specificity - these would be funds from residents of the township to pay for their roads in their township. It won't disappear into a general fund and it certainly won't be washed through several layers of State bureaucracy.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 12:46 p.m.

Generally support the special assessment for routine maintenance but would be opposed if the monies were used for significant repairs/projects such as building up of Liberty, west of Zeeb, where it floods on an annual basis. Those monies should come from the county or from the immediate neighborhood served by the road.

Amy Biolchini

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 3:13 p.m.

That would be an issue to express to the township board. Spaulding Clark was clear with me that he knew this kind of an effort would require a specific list of road projects that would be completed in order for people to get on board.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 12:45 p.m.

I think our roads are in need of repair and maintenance and the community should support the effort. It's a quality of life issue.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 12:13 p.m.

And, BTW, there is no tax break for living on a dirt road. We pay exactly the same taxes as everyone else.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 1:13 p.m.

I bet it was gravel when you decided to live there, happy with the low taxes in the township compared to the city....


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 1:05 p.m.

And we get about the same value for our state taxes when it comes to local roads-- dirt or paved. About none!


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 12:10 p.m.

Could taxpayers be assured the funds would go 100% for road improvements and not to shore up unfunded pension liabilities of road workers? There ought to be some minimum standard for all roads including gravel roads. I have lived on a dirt road (not gravel) for 27 years and have seen my road decrease in elevation by at least a foot to the point where it is now lower than the ditches next to it. I wouldn't support another tax unless all roads were brought up to a minimum standard.

Amy Biolchini

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 3:12 p.m.

According to what township officials and the road commission have told me, this special assessment district is strictly to fund road repairs and maintenance on local roads in Scio Township. It's one of the only options to ensure that Scio Township dollars go directly to the road projects in Scio Township that township officials, who are working for the residents, determine need to be fixed.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 1:03 p.m.

Excellent question, be sure to ask. I think you will be pleased to find that money raised via an SAD is dedicated to the specific objectives of the SAD; in this case road repair. Your observation of your road is typical in the township, and it will only get worse unless we do something. An SAD is as close to "passing the hat" to accomplish a common goal as citizens have available to them.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 12:07 p.m.

I live in Scio twp. I don't use ANY of these listed roads. I don't live on or use gravel roads. Let those who live on those gravel roads pay for them. (Isnt there a tax break if you live on a gravel road as well?) Why should those who derive ZERO benefit have to help pay for these roads? You say this is to pay for roads I use on a daily basis. I don't use ANY of them, let alone any on a daily basis. Think again.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 1:01 p.m.

I don't find that argument particularly compelling. First, the listed roads are the first year top priority list, but I believe the SAD is sized to cover repair and preventative maintenance for ALL local Scio roads. You must use some local roads if you drive in the area. Are they all in great shape? Every year these roads are going to be closer to falling apart unless they are maintained-- physical reality of the weather in this part of the country. And unless we do something they will not be maintained. Also, property values in the township are affected by the quality of the roads and the appearance of either care or disregard they are given.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 11:32 a.m.

If this is another millage scheme, forget it.


Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 3:45 p.m.

DennisP - I agree that I like to see more state tax dollars spent on keeping our roads and other public infrastructure in good shape. That isn't the case, despite it being a top agenda item in Lansing right now. I support your efforts, but good luck with demanding a better functioning legislature. In the meantime I'd like to fix our local roads. At least with an SAD I know the money from the township residents will get spent on fixing and maintaining the township's roads. What we give to Lansing sure isn't.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 1:02 p.m.

Ken, it's exactly that. It is a millage scheme cloaked in the authority of a special assessment. The use of a special assessment for the provision of services (road maintenance is a service) divorces the traditional precept that the assessment charged should directly correlate to the value enjoyed by the property owner paying the fee. Drainage millages are charged against the drainage system that affects a particular piece of land. That drain serves the landowners charged specifically and directly. That differs from a general public use like roads. This tax (that's what it really is) sets a fee per property that is unrelated to the work done on the road abutting the property. That's not assessment, that's a tax. I understand the problem with road funding. That's what we have a legislature for. The formula used at the State level is skewed. We have an MDOT that throws money into crop circles they call roundabouts but never has enough money to pay for local road paving. Local communities like Scio and the entire county should be going to our representatives, senators and the Nerd insisting on a better distribution of those tax dollars. How many millions spent on roadways around the Ambassador Bridge and now we need a new one? Where are all these gas tax dollars going? Repair first, the build new.

Amy Biolchini

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 3:19 p.m.

It's a special assessment district, which is different from a millage. Special assessment districts are also used to repair county drains -- and the city of Ypsilanti is considering one to pay for street lighting: