RCOC Board approves agency’s 2014 budget

The Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) Board of Road Commissioners this morning approved the fiscal year 2014 budget during its regular meeting.

The 2014 budget, at $108 million represents an increase of $5 million compared to the $103.1 million 2013 budget adopted in September of last year. The proposed budget includes work on road improvement projects with a total value of more than $47 million (many of the projects include expenses spread over several budget years).

RCOC’s fiscal year runs Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. Final adoption of the budget will take place in September.

The 2014 budget is more than the 2013 budget primarily due to an anticipated slight increase in state-collected road-funding dollars and because of an increase in federal road funding coming to the agency.

RCOC anticipates receiving $58.7 million in state revenues in fiscal year 2014, compared to $57.7 million in the current fiscal year. While state revenues to RCOC were up very slightly for the last two years, those revenues had declined for the five previous (2007-2011) years after being flat for nearly 10 years.

State revenues, derived primarily from the state-collected fuel taxes and vehicle-registration fees, are RCOC’s largest source of funding and the main funding source for RCOC operations. The 2014 state revenue level will remain at approximately the same level received 15 years ago in 1999.

“This budget demonstrates our commitment to doing the most we can with the available resources,” RCOC Board Chairman Greg Jamian said. He noted 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 2014 than in 2013, but that slight increase will not offset the cost increases we have seen for materials and equipment,” RCOC Vice-Chairman Ron Fowkes said. He added RCOC currently has 195 fewer staff members than in 2007, a reduction of more than 35 percent.

“Today we have fewer employees than at any time since the 1950s, 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,” noted RCOC Board Member Eric Wilson.

“While the years of declining budgets have taken a serious toll on the Road Commission,” RCOC Managing Director Dennis Kolar said, “we have also taken many steps to become more efficient and to cut costs. 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.”

Among the planned projects included in the 2014 RCOC Road Improvement Program, are:

– Widening Tienken Road from 2 lanes to 3 from Livernois to Rochester Road in Rochester Hills

– Paving the gravel portion of Oak Hill Road from Dixie Highway to Kier Road in Groveland and Springfield townships

RCOC Chairman Jamian explained the 2014 budget represents the agency’s efforts to cut costs where possible while impacting services as little as possible. “Again in 2014, we will not be filling any position that is vacated unless it is absolutely critical. 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.”

Managing Director Kolar noted despite the road-funding crisis, RCOC remains committed to customer service. “We will continue to do everything we can, with the resources available, to meet the needs of our customers,” he stated.

“We are charged by the public with using their money to accomplish the greatest good on the county road system. We take that responsibility very seriously.”

About Sarah Hovis

Freelance wordsmith, arts appreciator, grammar geek, sports spectator, stationery snob, and world traveler, Sarah charts her own course as the owner of saliho creative. She uses her creative mind and engaging dialogue to fearlessly bring the written word to life in print and online… all while keeping a watchful eye out for the next literary adventure. You can reach her at sarah@rochestermedia.com.

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