LANSING — State Rep. Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) introduced House Bill 5761 to enable county road commissions to more easily improve their facilities and upgrade their equipment. The bill would allow the commissions to bond out for 30 years to cover the cost of a new or upgraded building or new equipment. Currently, county road commissions can only bond for 15 years.
“Many of my commissions are small and are working out of very old buildings—in fact one commission building is so old that it’s about to be condemned,” said Dianda. “Like other government offices, county road commissions bond in order to raise funds for new buildings and equipment, but unlike those other offices, commissions have 15 years to pay back the bonds instead of 30. That creates an unnecessary hardship. My bills fixes this by allowing them to bond for 30 years.”
Local governments sell municipal bonds in order to raise money for many projects. Bonds are usually sold to finance capital projects over the longer term. Municipal bonds are also exempt from federal taxes and many state and local taxes. Selling bonds is generally a simpler way to raise money for these kinds of projects. Dianda said that a number of the county road commissions in his U.P. House District are using old and often used equipment like snow plows and mowers. One commission works out of a pole barn rather than a garage. He tried to determine why the commissions were limited to 15 year bonds instead of the normal 30 years, but no one he talked with could explain why bonding is different for these road commissions.
“It’s no secret Michigan needs better roads, but until we get them we can’t be holding back those are trying to keep our roads safe, even with limited means,” said Dianda. “We can’t afford to have county road workers using old equipment that could break down, or operating out of buildings that are about to fall down on top of their equipment. My bill makes it easier for even the smallest commissions in our rural areas to be able to replace old buildings and equipment when they need to so we can all have safer roads to drive on.”