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Finding money for roads

Action by the state’s elected leaders and money are key solutions to improving the condition of roads in St. Joseph County and the rest of the state.

The solution was detailed Thursday by Christopher Bolt, engineer-manager of the St. Joseph County Road Commission. The Centreville-based agency staged a first-of-its-kind “road summit” that drew more than 60 people to Centreville.

Bolt said the local road commission is in a state of crisis, but without funding to supplement its $6 million annual budget, it will have to continue to do the best it can  with the money it has. Gas and vehicle registration taxes generate about $4.5 million to the department, more than two-thirds of its annual budget.

Another 1.2 million comes from a countywide millage, which is up for renewal in August. In a separate vote also in August, the commission is asking whether residents support a 2-mill increase for road maintenance and improvements.

State Sen. Bruce Caswell, who spoke during the 2 1/2-hour program at the St. Joseph County Intermediate School District, called the gas-tax formula a dinosaur.

Caswell said he supports a 1-cent increase in sales tax, which would generate $1.3 billion annually.