SALEM TWP. – Salem Township will ask voters to pass a new road maintenance levy in March four months after the previous attempt failed.
Residents will vote on an additional tax for the benefit of Salem Township, excluding the city of Urbana, for the purpose of general construction, reconstruction, resurfacing and repair of roads. The five-year, 2.9-mill levy is estimated to generate $163,575 annually according to the Champaign County Auditor’s Office.
Last November, the same levy failed by a vote of 53.54 percent to 46.46 percent. Since 2010, Salem Township has placed a road levy on the ballot eight times.
Salem Township Trustee Rick Clyburn said the condition of the township’s roads is very important for the community. He added township officials will feel as if they are not doing their jobs if they do not try to get the levy passed.
“There are people that go to work, our buses drive on them, they’re necessary for the business that’s being done in the township,” Clyburn said. “It’s very important to keep our infrastructure up in this country as a whole and it boils right down to even our township. Everything relies on having good roads, on people being able to get to and from where they’re going … it’s a very basic need that we all need to have good roads.”
Clyburn said the levy will help the township provide for the general upkeep and maintenance of roads including chip and seal, patching potholes and potentially using asphalt.
A different approach Clyburn said the township wants to try this election is surveying residents to ask about the levy and see what issues they can iron out.
Clyburn said the township receives around $80,000 for its road budget. The township also uses the budget money for road maintenance in the winter.
If the levy fails, Clyburn said the township will have to cut back further on the amount of chip and seal conducted on roads along with other general maintenance such as mowing. The township is responsible for maintenance on 39 miles of roads which costs around $12,000 per mile to conduct chip and seal.
“I know a lot of people don’t care for chip and seal but it is very important to be able to keep these roads sealed and that’s the cheapest way that we’ve got to do it,” Clyburn said. “We’re to the point now where we used to be on a three-year schedule of getting it done and now we’re up to about a five- or six-year schedule now trying to get all our roads done. If that fails we may go to a seven- or eight-year schedule trying to get them all done.”
An earlier version of this story stated it costs $1,200 to chip and seal a mile of road. The correct amount is $12,000 per mile.