By Matt Schepeler
One village trustee is not happy about the condition of the roads in the village of Brooklyn, and she wants something done about it.
Trustee Estella Roberts broached the subject Monday night. “I have been giving considerable thought to the state of the roads,” said Roberts.
She said when talking to residents, the condition of the village roads always seems to come up in conversation.
“I am highly concerned. We have got some pretty bad roads in the village. We need to do something. I don’t know what the heck the answer is, but we need to be thinking about it,” said Roberts.
Of course, fixing roads takes money, which leaves the village council with two options: increasing village taxes without a vote of the people: something the council has the power to do; or by our asking voters to approve a special millage, which would give them buy-in from the community.
At least one official is opposed to the idea of hiking the millage rate without a vote of the people.
“I would have a difficult time raising the taxes to repair the roads because we already had that vote, and they said ‘No,’” said village president J.B. DeJeu.
Roberts said she understands that sentiment, but that something still needs to be done.
“The village staff has done a fantastic job of filling potholes, but they keep getting worse and worse with every passing day.
“I don’t know what the answer is,” she continued, “but we are supposed to take care of the village, and we need to think about what the answers can be. I don’t want to see my taxes raised either,” she said.
Trustee Kara Lorenz said she believed it would be better to seek a millage through a vote rather than simply raising taxes, and added that if the council does decide to seek a millage through a vote, they could do much more to educate the public that the council did before the last vote.
“First of all, the verbiage on a ballot is very complicated. It doesn’t always tell you what is happening. And projecting to the community about what [a millage] would do for the community is important.
“I also think that starting now, you need to start talking about what is going to be shown to the community.”
DeJeu noted that they have been putting any extra funds available into the roads. For example, around $70,000 from the sale of the former Dollar General property (next to the Brooklyn Exponent) was put into the local road fund. “We are doing everything that we can.”
Roberts said, “that isn’t nearly enough.”
“I know what a mile of road costs, and that didn’t’ do half a mile of a road.”
Village Manager Jae Guetschow added that officials also struggle with the cumulative effect of the Headlee Amendment, in which the 5 mills slated to work on roads has eroded to 3.5 mills, coupled with the loss of state revenue sharing, “and this is the result.”
While no action was taken by the council, members appear interested in pursuing the matter in the near future.
“Regardless of what happens, there are going to be people who are very happy and people who are very mad,” said DeJeu