Brookfield voters have chosen a new road by approving a 3.5-mill, continuous levy for the township road department.
In the unofficial vote tally, 1,610 voters – 52 percent of those who voted – supported the levy, while 1,504 voted against it.”This is a big win for our community,” said Trustee Mark Ferrara, who made addressing the roads a priority when he took office in January.
Ferrara hoped that the condition of the roads would speak for themselves, and it seems they did.
“There’s a lot of bad roads in Brookfield,” said Ron Keso, who voted for the levy.
“If you gotta live here, you gotta support the schools, you gotta support the community,” Keso said.
Another levy supporter, Meredith Tompkins III, agreed.
“The roads are terrible these days,” he said.
Trustee Dan Suttles said the vote totals reflect that early and absentee voting played a big role in the outcome. He counted votes posted at the polling places, which do not include early and absentee votes, and tallied 2,300, with the nos slightly ahead of the yesses.
Suttles said 3.5 mills is a “good-sized levy,” but pledged that the township can “do a lot” with the money.
Ferrara said the trustees did not want to continue the Band-aid approach that has been employed for many years.
Road Supt. Jaime Fredenburg put together a 20-year plan to pave every township road, perform regular maintenance on the roads and bring unaccepted roads up to the level where they can be accepted for perpetual township maintenance.
“I think the plan helped,” Suttles said. “Now, it’s incumbent on us to stick with the plan.”
“Now, I guess we gotta do what we said we’d do,” Ferrara said. “We will.”
The size of the levy was a concern for voter Jerry Piehuta, who said he might have supported a smaller request, but 3.5 mills was too much.
“What meal do you want me to give up?” Piehuta said.
Gerald and Diane Wasser said they couldn’t support a levy of any size.
“We live on a fixed income,” they said.
Keso said you have to sacrifice for the good of the community, and Tompkins said road work “is not cheap these days.”
“The roads really need it,” said Tompkins’ 84-year-old mother, Wanda, who also voted yes.
Ferrara thanked his fellow trustees, Suttles and Ron Haun, for agreeing to put the levy on the ballot;
Fredenburg for his work in drafting the plan; and levy committee member Shannon Devitz, who sent a mailer to voters and placed signs around town.
“We are thanking God for his leadership,” Ferrara added.
By supporting the improving of the roads, voters are paving the way toward economic development, he said. “We’re looking for bright days ahead.”
The levy is expected to bring in about $490,000 a year, Fredenburg said, and the money will start to be collected in 2023. Fredenburg said the levy proceeds will be used to leverage grants that could accelerate the pace of paving.