LAKE COUNTY - The Lake County Road Commission is implementing a new program to assist local units in funding road repairs.

"The Lake County Road Commission understands how important our local road system is to our community and to our township residents," LCRC Fiannce and Human resources manager Jessica LaPointe said. "It is this importance that encouraged the Road Commission to develop a plan to help the Road Commission and townships to fund some local projects."

Local road projects can be difficult to fund because Act 51 states the road commissions cannot fund 100 percent of those projects, LaPointe said.

Public Act 51 of 1951, commonly referred to as just "Act 51," governs how state revenue for roads and bridges is allocated and spent.

Act 51 distributes Michigan Transportation Funds to county road commissions. How much each county receives depends on how many miles of certain types of roads it has, how many vehicles are registered there, its population and its annual snowfall.

Seventy-five percent of MTF funds distributed to cities and villages are used for major streets and 25 percent are used for local streets.

"While it is clear about the amount the road commission can fund, it is not so clear who is expected to fund the other half," LaPointe said. "It has been generally accepted that the townships cover those costs. The Road Commission has developed a plan that would allocate $400,000 to local projects across the county."

To allocate the funds as fairly as possible across the 15 townships in Lake County, the plan sets aside $250,000 that is divided equally among them, providing a base amount of $16,666.67 per township.

In addition to that, the road commission looked at the number of miles of local roads within each township and allocated funds according to that figure, LaPointe said.

To determine that funding, they used a formula of $75,000 divided by the number of local miles in Lake County and came up with a figure of $101.20 per mile. They then multiply the per mile amount times the number of miles within the township to determine what each township would be allocated.

An additional $75,000 is split by population using the formula, $75,000 divided by 11,539 Lake County residents, which comes to $5.50 per person.

That figure is multiplied times the number of residents within the township and funds are allocated to each township based on that calculation.

"When you put those formulas into motion, the road commission would allocate anywhere from $21,700 to $36,500 per township for local road projects each year," LaPointe said.

"As of today, the Road Commission Board has decided this will be a three year program, depending on the success," she continued. "So, every year, for the next three years, beginning in 2021, every township can count on the road commission allocating these funds to their township for local road projects."

To use the funds the township is required to match the amount. There is no minimum amount a township is required to use and if a township wants to roll the funds over for three years and do one large project, the road commission would allow that.

"If this program is a success and we continue it in to a fourth year, and there are funds remaining from year one, those funds would drop off in year four, however," LaPointe said.

"This program is not coming from the state," she continued. "This is something the road commission decided to do to help improve our local roads within the county."

Road Commission members have presented the program to all but one of the 15 townships within Lake County, LaPointe added.

"All of our townships have been receptive, except for one, who didn't feel that their local roads needed any work," she said.

Pleasant Plains supervisor Kevin Braddy said they do not have any plans for utilizing the extra funds at this time, but with the new bonus from the county they will be looking into what they can get done.

Lou Fitz, Elk Township supervisor, said their road committee will be meeting and making recommendations to the board as to how they may want to utilized the funds.

Webber Township supervisor Ernie Wogatzke discussed possible options for using the funds at the township board meeting Oct. 8, which included work on Roosevelt Road and Guthrie Street.