Questions and Answers about the 2018 Street Bond to appear on the Nov.
6, 2018 ballot
1. Why do we need a street bond?
The amount of funds budgeted
annually for street repair and replacement, approximately $550,000 per
year, is not sufficient to keep pace with the rate at which streets are
deteriorating. At present, 46.5% of Northville streets have a “poor”
rating … which means that we are repairing streets when they get closer
to the “replacement” condition. This is a very expensive way to maintain
streets. It also results in people driving on streets that are more
likely to develop potholes and crumbling conditions.
2. How much will I need to pay for the street bond?
millage to be levied beginning in 2019 would be 0.9787 mills (98¢ per
$1,000 of taxable value). That would be used for the issuance of a
$3,050,000 Street Improvement Bond, paid for over 10 years ($50,000 of
that amount covers the cost of issuing the bonds). The average
residential taxpayer has a taxable value of $139,943, which amounts to
an increase of $137 on their 2019 City tax bill. That increase would
continue for a total of 10 years.
3. Will new property development share in the cost?
Any new development
in the City will pay its share of the bond once the property is on the
tax rolls at its new value. If there is any new development, this will
reduce the amount of tax paid by existing property owners over the
10-year bond period. In addition, developers would be responsible for
most of the cost of street improvements (new traffic signals, turn
lanes, passing lanes) directly resulting from the development.
4. How will the Street Bond change the way streets are repaired?
City currently spends approximately $550,000 per year to repair streets.
Bond funds will be able to bring most street conditions up to “good”
before they deteriorate to a condition that requires costly
reconstruction. Engineers and financial analysts have determined that
reconstructing failed streets later is much more expensive than
repairing and resurfacing streets now. The total costs of maintenance
and street reconstruction are projected to be $2.5 million lower over
the following 15 years, if the bond issue passes, than if the City
continues to spend funds in its present manner. (Refer to Engineer’s
chart of poor/fair/good streets.)
5. How will the bond money be allocated?
The bond funds would be
combined with the City’s existing street millage and $1,050,000 from
reserve funds to finance an infusion of $6.25 million into street
repairs and replacement over the next four years. After spending these
initial funds, the City would continue to use its existing street
millage (currently 1.68 mills), which generates about $550,000 annually,
to repair and maintain the improved street system. (See financial chart
6. How do we know that the money from the bond issue will be spent on
The wording of the ballot language stipulates that funds
from the bond issue must be used “to pay the cost of acquiring and
constructing street improvements throughout the City, consisting of
paving, repaving, grading, resurfacing, reconstructing and improving
streets, including curb, gutter, sidewalk, drainage and related
7. Why isn’t the City planning on doing more?
We realize that no one
wants to pay additional tax. So, the City put together a plan that will
significantly impact our streets and ask for less than 1 mill in
additional taxes. It is important to remember that this plan, while
measurably improving streets, will not bring all streets to good
8. How will Northville determine which streets will be repaired?
engineers will objectively select the streets to be repaired, based on
the condition at the time, using the Pavement Surface Evaluation and
Rating (PASER) system, and Roadsoft software. The overall condition of
the streetway network (OCI) and practicalities – such as traffic
volumes, scheduling close repairs together, and not obstructing
alternative routes – will factor into the plan.
9. How do we know that repairs will last?
The City will implement a
new quality assurance and quality control program which will include:
having one engineering firm design and supervise all street
improvements; requiring materials to come from certified plants and pits
with certified mix designs; sampling and testing the materials used; and
hiring trained professionals, independent of the contractor, to conduct
a field inspection.
10. How are other communities handling street repairs?
Canton is proposing a millage of 1.45 over 20 years on
the township’s Aug. 7 ballot. In 2014, Royal Oak voters
approved a 10-year, 2.5-mill tax increase to upgrade
See details here. In 2016, Ann Arbor renewed a
street, bridge and sidewalk millage, and bridges of up
to 2.125 mills for five years (2017-2021).
See details here. Brighton is asking for a 4.34 mill
increase to repair and maintain roads on the August
See details here.
11. Why doesn’t the new increase in the statewide gas tax cover our
City’s street repairs?
The state tax on unleaded gasoline increased
from 19 cents to 26.3 cents per gallon on Jan. 1, 2017. It will
eventually add $1.2 billion a year to fix the state’s deteriorating
roads and bridges. Transportation officials warn the higher taxes won’t
translate into better streets for years to come and also because the
program is not fully funded. Michigan won’t be spending the full
additional $1.2 billion annually on streets and bridges until 2021 if
the money is available. (reference: Detroit News)
12. How much did the City of Northville receive from the statewide gas
tax increase (Act 51)?
In 2018, Northville received an additional
$38,354.68, This slight increase helps to offset street maintenance
costs, like patching and snow plowing, but isn’t enough to cover street
repair or reconstruction.
13. I pay a lot of taxes to the City. Why isn’t it enough to cover
street repair and maintenance?
Of the total Wayne County tax bill
paid by homeowners, only 36% is retained by the City. The other 64% is
distributed to other taxing jurisdictions for items such as county
operations, schools, parks, library and debt. Northville residents who
live in Oakland County only see 40% of their taxes retained by
Northville. The City can only budget the revenue received from the
current street improvement tax levy. That millage rate is subject to
reduction each year due to Headlee. When it was first approved, the
millage was established at 1.92 mills. Over the past 21 years, it has
declined to 1.6841 mills. Meanwhile, costs for street construction
continue to rise.
14. What is the difference between this bond request and the
request made in 2015?
The ballot language of this bond issue
requires that all bond funds must be spent on street repairs.
estimated millage required for this bond issue is 0.98 mills over 10
years, the last proposal asked for 2.25 mills over 15 years. That
15. Please state your question if it does not appear in this
Q&A, direct it to the City Manager.
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