CLARE COUNTY ROAD COMMISSION
HISTORY & BACKGROUND
The Clare County Road Commission was formally established on October 20, 1919 through action by the Board of Supervisors. The first Chairman of the Board of County Road Commissioners was Richard Emerson, and members were S.W. Sly and Samuel Bruce.
Prior to this time, roads were maintained by the townships. Many of the farmers in the townships were allowed to do road work in lieu of paying taxes. In the early 1930's, through the McNitt Act, the townships formally turned their roads over to the county road commission. Today, there are no township roads, but the townships still play an important role by contributing significant financial resources toward road improvements. Uniform and consistent funding for roads was introduced by Public Act 51 or 1951 which established the Michigan Transportation Fund and developed a formula for distributing the monies collected from fuel taxes, vehicle registration fees, and driver's license fees to transportation agencies: cities and villages, county road commissions, and the Michigan Department of Transportation.
Most counties have road commissions consisting of 3 to 5 members either elected or appointed by the County Board of Commissioners. Clare County has 3 elected commissioners who currently are: Michael Duggan, Richard Haynak, and Julie Lightfoot. The road commission board is a separate entity from general county government, operating with its own revenue source and budget. The road commission receives no property taxes for its operations, but townships with road millage may contribute to construction projects.
Road commissions are responsible for routine maintenance of county public roads and, in Clare County, state highways. Along with the commonly recognized activities of snow plowing, gravel road blading, improving drainage, pothole patching, and roadside mowing, road commissions also maintain bridges, signs, pavement markings, equipment, and storage facilities.
The Clare County Road Commission maintains 1,005 miles of county roads, of which approximately 290 miles are paved, and 288 lane miles of state highway with a total workforce of 32 regular employees in 2015. Of the regular employees, 23 are drivers and operators, while 2 perform mechanical duties. Supervisors, financial, technical and administrative personnel account for 8 positions.
More information on the history, function and financing of road commisions may be found at the County Road Association of Micghina (CRAM) website at www.micountyroads.org.