SALEM TWP. – Salem Township will once again ask voters to pass a levy for the purpose of maintaining roads in the township.
On Nov. 8, township residents will vote on a five-year, 2.9 mill additional levy for road improvement in the township, excluding the city of Urbana. The levy is expected to generate $181,500 annually according to information from the Champaign County Auditor’s Office.
Since 2010, the township has tried multiple times to pass a road maintenance levy. In March, eight votes were the difference as the road maintenance levy failed 394 votes to 386 votes or 50.51 percent to 49.49 percent.
Despite the previous levy failures, Salem Township Trustee Rick Clyburn said the township cannot give up on trying to get roads back up to shape. The township is responsible for maintenance on 39 miles of roads.
“It was very close the last time and we’re hoping a lot more people are getting the message that it takes money to keep our local community going,” Clyburn said. “Nobody likes taxes, but it does take money to keep things rolling and we have to be responsible to do that.”
Previously the township was on a three-year schedule where every road would be resealed or have chip and seal work performed. Clyburn said this schedule has now been pushed to every eight years.
The township has a road budget of around $80,000 which Clyburn said they are barely getting by with. He said chip and seal work can run between $9,000 to $12,000 per mile.
Seasonal weather also affects road maintenance costs as Clyburn said salt, grit and plowing snow are part of the costs the township deals with.
Clyburn said every spring the township evaluates roads and treats the worst ones.
“We don’t have enough money to do everything that is needed so we just have to pick the ones that are falling apart the worst,” Clyburn said. “You can only do that for so long and it keeps getting worse every year.”
Ultimately, Clyburn hopes voters recognize the importance of the levy on the community.
“It’s so easy to go in there and just vote no but think about what you’re voting for,” Clyburn said. “It is a great benefit for the entire township. We need it for our kids, we need it for us, we need it for the businesses we do have here in township and people passing through so they have a safe way to get through our township.”
In addition to the road maintenance levy, Salem Township also has a five-year, 3 mill levy on the ballot for fire and EMS services, excluding the city of Urbana. Clyburn said this is a replacement for the current fire and EMS levy the township has with the same millage while updating to the present valuation.
The township contracts with the Urbana Fire Division, Urbana Township, West Liberty Fire Department and Macochee Joint Ambulance District to provide fire and EMS services every year throughout both parts of the township. Clyburn said the township pays more than $130,000 a year to the four entities to provide these services.
“We got projections from Urbana and a few others that it’s going to go up so we decided we didn’t want to up the millage but if we just put a replacement levy on leave the millage the same and the levy will be at the new valuation that will bring in enough extra money that will cover our projected increases in services,” Clyburn said.
The levy is expected to generate $188,000 annually according to information provided by the Champaign County Auditor’s Office.