Salem Township officials hope voters approve a new road maintenance levy Nov. 3. The township’s attempt failed last year.
Township residents, excluding the city of Urbana, will vote on an additional tax for the purpose of general construction, reconstruction, resurfacing and repair of roads. The five-year, 2.9 mill levy is expected to generate $166,800 annually toward road maintenance, according to the Champaign County Auditor’s Office.
“I could name just about every road that we have and there’s a problem somewhere on that road and it’s only getting worse,” Salem Township Trustee Rick Clyburn said.
Clyburn said the levy is the same as the one voters rejected last November by a vote of 53.25 percent to 46.75 percent. Clyburn said the township has not been able to keep pace with road maintenance costs for the last several years and is going backward in road maintenance.
“We’re hoping to use that toward general repair. It also goes toward our winter ice removal and snow plowing, which has been a big drain on our budget the last four or five years,” Clyburn said. “Also we’re planning to hopefully start doing some road pavement, maybe one or two miles a year with that.”
Clayburn said that in 2008 the township’s chip and seal cost was $4,000 per mile. The same method now costs the township $13,000 per mile.
Clyburn said if the township performed chip and seal on a five-year rotation it should spend nearly $80,000 a year. This would only cover one-fifth of the 39 miles the township is responsible for covering and Clyburn said it would not cover other road maintenance costs.
Clyburn said the township has a one-mill continuous road levy that brings in around $24,000 per year, which he said was barely enough to cover salt costs over the past few years.
Because last November’s levy failed, Clyburn said, the township cut back on road repairs including not doing any chip and seal this year.
Outside of road maintenance costs, Clyburn said, the trustees have voluntarily dropped health insurance.
“We couldn’t afford it so we dropped it and we’re all paying for it out of our own pockets now,” Clyburn said.
If the levy fails this year, Clyburn anticipates the township will have to look at decreasing the number of miles they perform chip and seal on from eight or nine to five.
Clyburn said the levy should provide enough revenue to repair roads over a period of time.
“We’re not asking for more than we need, but we’re asking for what we have to have,” Clyburn said. “Ideally, we need like a 20-mill levy for these roads to be up and going real quick, but being realistic in this day and age we’re not going to get that, so we’re going to have to go with what we think we can get by with and get these roads back up into shape and over a five-year period we can hopefully get a lot of our worst roads back up to par.
“At the end of that five-year period we’ll have to look and we’ll probably try to get the levy passed again at that time because this problem isn’t going away. It’s just something that’s a fact of life. You need good roads to be able to travel safely, do business in the county and the township, and for the school buses to travel on safely every day. It’s a very important thing to keep your road repairs up.”
Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.