With an overall, countywide balance in the neighborhood of $7 million in the Tri-Party Program coffers, county officials are getting antsy about some participating communities’ large, undesignated Tri-Party balances. We can appreciate county officials’ restlessness: Money is tight these days. If a community isn’t going to use its accumulated Tri-Party funds, and soon, it should indicate as much so the money can be used elsewhere. So, we don’t at all blame the county and Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) for reaching out to Oakland’s municipalities and asking them to at least designate one or more projects that will be tackled with Tri-Party funding, and then conduct those projects during one of the next two construction seasons.
The RCOC is now in the process of mailing out letters to municipalities urging them to use their banked Tri-Party funds. The program allows local communities to annually select road improvement projects to be funded equally by the RCOC, a participating municipality, and the county. Money is allocated to participating communities based on road mileage and the number of accidents occurring annually in the municipality. Most municipalities are allowed to accumulate monies over a number of years for larger projects. Apparently that option is now causing some nervousness among county and road commission officials.
There’s about $7 million in unused money in the Tri-Party fund, which includes money from the county, RCOC, and participating communities. That figure doesn’t include 2012 allocations.
According to one RCOC official, the county commission doesn’t want all that money just sitting unused and undesignated. The accumulation of a large balance suggests that either the community is no longer interested in the program, or just hasn’t picked one or more modest projects.
Therefore, the outgoing RCOC letters are asking communities by April 1 to commit any available Tri-Party funds to a specific project that can be implemented in the next 24 months.
Of the 11 lakes area communities, three have sizable Tri-Party balances: Waterford, $547,327; West Bloomfield, $903,818; and Walled Lake, $124,355. Perhaps there’s a communication glitch involving West Bloomfield and Walled Lake, as they may be planning to spend their Tri-Party dollars on the Northwestern Connector project or rebuilding the intersection of Pontiac Trail and Maple Road, respectively.
Communication breakdown or not, participating communities with big Tri-Party balances should either decide how to spend that money in the next two years, or give it up to communities that will.