Voters unsure about Proposal 1

GAS TAX: Stan Dinius feels the time is right for a higher gas tax with the lower prices drivers are paying at the pump. (Pioneer photo/Dan Meloy)

GAS TAX: Stan Dinius feels the time is right for a higher gas tax with the lower prices drivers are paying at the pump. (Pioneer photo/Dan Meloy)

BIG RAPIDS — Three weeks out from the May 5 road funding proposal, Michigan residents are considering the damage done to their cars – and wallets – before deciding how to vote.

Polls indicate the proposal is doomed to fail, with an April 1 Detroit Free Press poll showing 66 percent of respondents saying they will vote no compared to 24 percent saying they will vote yes.

In Big Rapids, residents agree the roads are in rough shape, but many are unsure of how – or if – they will vote on May 5.

Big Rapids resident Craig Molie said he won’t be voting on May 5 because he feels uninformed about the proposal.

“I haven’t heard enough about Proposal 1 and what it will do, so I don’t think I’m going to vote either way,” Molie said. “I know it has something to do with the roads, but I’m not too clear on what all the law would do.”

Molie’s sentiment about the lack of clarity surrounding the ballot initiative is a popular one around town, causing residents to avoid the polls altogether on May 5.

“I don’t watch a lot of television, so I haven’t seen a lot about Proposal 1,” said Alice McKenna, who recently moved from Lakeview to Big Rapids. “We have bad roads in Michigan that could use some repairs – I think everyone knows that – but people don’t know enough about this proposal to have an opinion on it. I’m planning to do some research on the matter before voting, but I still don’t know if I’ll even vote.”

The biggest impact voters will feel if the proposal passes is the prices of gasoline. Proposal 1 will increase the gas tax in order to raise revenue for road repairs.

A gallon of unleaded gas cost $2.49 at the Admiral and Clark stations on State Street Friday morning, and some residents feel the low prices might mean it is a good time to increase taxes on gasoline.

“My first indication is that I’ll be paying more in taxes and paying more at the pump,” said former Big Rapids resident Stan Dinius. “However, the roads are in pretty bad shape, and this seems to be the best way to fix the roads. I’ll probably vote yes for the proposal, because it seems like there is no back-up plan.”

Dinius feels paying more in taxes and gas prices is a fair tradeoff for driving on safer roads.

“With gas prices as low as they have been and remaining steady, it might be a good time to increase the gas tax a little to pay for the roads,” Dinius said. “I don’t know how much money will go to the road from the proposal – I don’t think the legislature knows. I do think this is something we need to do.”

Proposal 1 will allow municipalities to finance road projects through competitive bidding and require performance-based evaluations for the projects.

Willie Simmons, Sr., a former contractor, feels this is in an important part of solving Michigan’s road-funding issues, but he still is unsure about supporting the process.

“I don’t know where the government gets the bids for road repairs from, but they are outrageous,” Simmons said. “You have a budget, and you can only put so much money into roads within that budget, so you best make sure people are accountable for fixing the roads. There needs to be warranties and checks on the people doing the repairs. These bids should be made open to the public and there needs to be transparency on how we are spending money and to whom do the contract go.”

 

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