The Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) will hold a public hearing on Thursday, Aug. 23 to present a Fiscal Year (FY) 2012-13 budget proposal that anticipates a slight increase in revenues compared to the current budget.
The public hearing will be begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Oakland County Board of Commissioners Auditorium, located at 1200 N. Telegraph Road in Pontiac.
The $103.1-million proposed budget represents an increase of $2.4 million compared to the $100.7-million spending plan adopted for the current fiscal year.
The proposed budget includes funding for work on road improvement projects with a total value of nearly $42.8 million, but many of the projects include expenses spread over several budget years.
Among the projects planned in the lakes area is a reconstruction project along Haggerty Road between Oakley Park and Richardson roads in Commerce Township, estimated at $1.9 million. Also included is a project to repair, rehabilitate and resurface Cooley Lake Road from Union Lake to Williams Lake roads on the boarder of White Lake and Commerce townships for $450,000, in addition to another on Pontiac Lake Road, from M-59 to Cass Lake Road in Waterford Township, at an estimated cost of $1.2 million.
The RCOC’s fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. The new budget is expected to be adopted next month.
The 2012-13 proposed budget is higher than the current 2011-12 budget primarily due to an anticipated increase in state-collected road funding and because the road commission plans to use approximately $4.4 million from its fund balance during the upcoming fiscal year.
Federal road funding coming to the RCOC during the new fiscal year is expected to decrease by $1 million.
The RCOC anticipates receiving $57.7 million in state revenues in FY 2012-13, compared to $56.8 million during the current fiscal year. Another $17 million in federal funding is anticipated for road improvement projects and $10.5 million will come from the RCOC’s state highway maintenance contract.
While FY 2012-13 state revenues to the RCOC will be up slightly compared to the current fiscal year, state revenues had declined for the five previous fiscal years after being flat for nearly 10 years.
State revenues, derived primarily from the state-collected fuel taxes and vehicle-registration fees, are the RCOC’s largest source of funding and the main funding source for RCOC operations. State revenue for the next fiscal year will remain below the level received 13 years ago.
“These continue to be very arduous times for road agencies in Michigan,” said RCOC Board of Road Commissioners Chairman Eric Wilson.
Wilson added that federal funding — which is generally tied to specific road construction projects and cannot be used for routine maintenance operations — tends to fluctuate considerably from year to year.
“We’re pleased we will receive more state-collected funding for 2013 than in 2012, but that slight increase will not offset the massive cost increases we have seen for materials and equipment,” said RCOC Board Vice Chairman Greg Jamian.
Expenditures for 2012-13 are expected to come in at $103.1 million, reflecting a balanced budget. Operations are expected to be funded at $71 million, while road improvements will come in at $29.6 million and the traffic signal program is budgeted at $2.5 million.
Due to budgetary constraints, the RCOC has reduced its personnel by 25 percent and now employs 142 fewer staff members than in 2007.
“Today we have fewer employees than at any time since at least 1962, when the county had half the population it has today, there were far fewer road lanes, and traffic volumes were one-fifth what they are today,” said RCOC Board Member Ron Fowkes.
The RCOC will be continuing to cut costs where possible while impacting services as little as possible.
“Again in 2013, we will not be filling any position that is vacated unless it is absolutely critical,” Wilson said. “As a result, we are calling on our employees to continually try to find ways to do more with less, or at least to maintain the best possible level of service with fewer resources and less staff.”
“While the years of declining budgets have taken a serious toll on the road commission, we have also taken many steps to become more efficient and to cut costs,” said Managing Director Dennis Kolar. “It’s true we are not able to do as much as we did in the past, but we are now using the available resources much more efficiently than ever before. That’s a tribute to the commitment and dedication of the road commission employees.”
The costs for the Road Improvement Program are estimated total costs for each project, including any preliminary engineering, right-of-way acquisition and construction costs. For many projects, some of these costs — such as for preliminary engineering or right-of-way acquisition — were paid for under previous years’ budgets, so the total project costs are not necessarily representative of the dollars included in the 2012-13 budget for each project.
During the public hearing the Road Improvement Program for 2013 will be reviewed.