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The Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) will present its proposed Fiscal Year 2022 budget at a public hearing Thursday, Aug. 19, at 6:30 p.m. at the Oakland County Board of Commissioners Auditorium, 1200 N. Telegraph in Pontiac.
The public is invited to attend the hearing and offer input on the proposed budget. RCOC’s fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. Adoption of the budget is expected to take place at the regular RCOC Board meeting on Sept. 23.
The proposed $180 million budget represents an increase of about $19.2 million compared to the $161 million 2021 budget adopted in September of last year. The 2022 proposed budget increased primarily due to increases in state and federal road funds.
RCOC anticipates receiving almost $115 million in state road funding in fiscal year 2022, compared to just over $102 million received in the current year. State road funding is derived primarily from state-collected fuel taxes, vehicle-registration fees and state General Fund dollars.
Fiscal year 2021 marked the final year of new, additional state road funding tied to the 2015 Michigan road-funding-increase package. The state dollars continue to represent RCOC’s largest source of funding and its main funding source for operations.
The remaining revenue making up the budget comes from local community contributions ($17.3 million) federal funds ($28.5 million), the contract with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to maintain state highways in the county ($11.9 million), state Transportation Economic Development Fund (TEDF) grants ($2.4 million), federal funds for traffic signals ($2.3 million) and fees and other revenues ($2.9 million).
The TEDF and federal funds are awarded on a project-by-project basis, and the amount RCOC receives from each source fluctuates from year to year.
The proposed 2022 budget includes nearly $62.3 million in annual contributions toward road-improvement projects planned to be under construction in 2022 and future years (this is not the total cost for these projects -- some costs were included in the current year’s budget or will be included in the 2023 budget where projects are carried over from last year or expected to be carried over into 2023); $38.3 million for road maintenance efforts such as pothole patching, gravel road grading and salting and plowing in the winter; and $18.1 million for maintaining traffic signs, signals, pavement markings and guardrails among other activities.
The remainder of the budget is dedicated to operating expenses including customer services, vehicle maintenance, staff wages, buildings and grounds and administration.
“The Road Commission remains in a strong financial position,” reports RCOC Board Chair Andrea LaLonde. “Despite having lost revenue this year as a result of COVID-19, we are in a strong position moving forward – at least for the next couple of years,” LaLonde added.
RCOC Vice Chair Nancy Quarles concurred. “We have always operated in a fiscally conservative manor,” she explained. “Even during the last year and a half, when state revenues dropped due to COVID-19, we remained in solid fiscal condition,” she stated. “Fortunately, we were in good financial shape when the pandemic arrived.”
Board Member Ron Fowkes added the Board is hopeful that RCOC will receive some of the federal relief dollars related to the pandemic, either through the state or through Oakland County general government, to make up for the approximately $20 million in state revenue the agency lost in 2020 and 2021. “Our gas-tax and vehicle-registration-fee revenues dropped in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic,” he explained. “The federal government has dedicated a lot of money to restoring services impacted by the pandemic. Unfortunately, road commissions are not direct recipients of any of that money, so it would be great if either the state or the county sent some of those dollars our way.”
Managing Director Dennis Kolar agreed. “The $20 million we lost as a result of the pandemic would have helped to repair a lot of roads,” Kolar said. “If we could get reimbursed for some of that loss, we would certainly put the money to good use restoring our roads.”
During the public hearing, RCOC Deputy Managing Director/County Highway Engineer Gary Piotrowicz will provide an overview of the proposed 2022 Road Improvement Program (RIP) which includes next year’s road-construction projects. Among the planned projects are:
A complete list of projects expected to be constructed in 2022 is attached. Projects are typically selected based on a detailed, computerized road-assessment program combined with engineers’ analysis and a review of safety data. The decisions are often made years before construction begins because of funding requirements.
“RCOC continues to improve the safety and condition of our roads throughout Oakland County,” Managing Director Kolar said. “We know that many roads still need improvement and appreciate the patience of our citizens and businesses as we continue to work through a very long needs list.”
The proposed budget is posted on the RCOC Website, www.rcocweb.org (click on the “Financials” button on the home page, select “Budget Summary” and click on “Proposed 2021-22 Budget”).
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Editor’s Note: The list of anticipated projects to be constructed in 2022 and a summary of proposed revenues and expenses are attached.