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Hudson Township seeking $400,000 annual tax-levy hike

A referendum on a proposed $400,000 annual tax-levy hike will be on Hudson Township’s November ballot after Town Board action last week.

If approved by local voters, the money will be used to shore up Town Hall’s road-paving budget, which has been decimated in recent years by a 50 percent decline in state shared revenues and other factors, Board Chairman Jeff Johnson explained May 6.

He noted that the levy hike was approved in an advisory vote at the town’s April 15 annual meeting.

“We’re facing the fact that we do not have any money to do paving projects,” Johnson told the board, which favored the referendum on a unanimous voice vote.

“With 8,500 people and more than 100 miles of roads in the township, we’ve got to have enough money to do paving every year.”

According to a year-end financial report presented to the board in February, the town’s 2013 tax levy totaled $11,354,880.84, with a mill rate of 0.014545416.

In an interview after the meeting, Johnson estimated that the extra $400,000 would add about $45 per $100,000 of equalized valuation to residents’ annual tax bills, while paying for about three miles of road paving each year.

Johnson cited McCutcheon Road as an example of town roadways that are critically in need of repaving. The referendum will not specify which roads will be paved if the measure passes, however.

Sealing, repair, maintenance not enough?

The town has been holding the line on roadway wear and tear by utilizing “real good” repair, sealing and other maintenance techniques, but that can only do so much for so long, Johnson added.

“It used to be that paving roads every 20 years was pretty good, but we’re way past 30 years now,” he said. “We can’t wait until we have 10 miles of road fall apart to do something about that. So we felt we should get as close to three miles a year for paving as we can.”

Johnson noted that the board did not want to borrow to finance future paving projects – which would have kept the money off the town’s operating budget -- because it’s cheaper in the long run to handle those costs up-front.

Town Hall will research the local road-condition and budget picture between now and Aug. 15, after which a special board meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Aug. 18 to begin preparing for the referendum and reviewing options.

Johnson said holding the referendum on Election Day Nov. 4 would allow the maximum possible public input on the proposed levy increase.

“This should be on the November ballot when we’ll have the biggest voter turnout possible,” he told the board last week. “And if people don’t want it, we’re not going to be able to do it.”

Town Hall will, however, undertake a public education program to convince voters, including town newsletters, letters to the editor in local newspapers and other methods to be discussed at board meetings in June, July and August.

A public informational meeting might also be held “closer to the election,” Johnson said.

In other action last week, the board also approved:

--A zoning exemption to accommodate the Tough Mudder endurance obstacle race July 19-20. About one-third of a mile of the Tough Mudder race course is located in Hudson Township, with the most of the remainder located in the Town of St. Joseph.

--Another obstacle race, the Goliath Challenge, May 31, at the Badlands recreational area on Kinney Road. The third-annual event will feature a 5K race for adults and a 2.5K event for youngsters, Goliath Challenge spokesman Mark Kretschmar told the board.

--Site plans for new construction by Halverson Concrete Concepts on Brakke Drive; an addition to Faith Community Church at 777 Carmichael Road; and a three-phase Eagle Storage construction project on Lenertz Road.

Chuck Nowlen

Chuck Nowlen joined the Star-Observer team as a business, township and general-assignment reporter in April, 2014 after a three-decade career in newspapers and magazines, and as a newsroom-management/business-planning consultant.

(715) 808-8286