It is that time of year again when the Fresh Oil, Loose Gravel signs start coming up and drivers start cursing their local Municipality because the Tar and Chip is going down on the roads…
SO why is it that we tar and chip here in Winfield Township. There are a couple of answers to that question. The first is that the chip seal preserves the road surface and seals the cracks off from the penetration of moisture which will help prevent the heaving of roads as a result of the freeze/thaw cycle. Second, chip seal is a driving surface treatment that is applied to the roadway when there are no significant driving surface or base layer issues present in the roadway to increase the useful life of the roadway. Finally, it is a cost saving measure. Simply put, the cost of paving a single mile of roadway can reach upwards of $180,000. Winfield Township maintains just over 40 miles of roadway. That’s over 7 Million dollars… The Township budget simply does not have the capacity to take that on and keep your taxes affordable.
We receive approximately $200,000 per year from the State in Liquid Fuels money to be used on the roads. We reinvest over $150,000 of that back into strictly asphalt material (patching potholes and larger sections of roadway) and seal coating projects for the roads. We also allocate over $200,000 out of the General Fund that directly and/or indirectly benefits the infrastructure in the Township. But we do not stop there. We also use ACT 13 monies that Municipalities get from the State as a result of Oil and Gas Drilling that takes place in Winfield Township and in the area directly outside of the Township. In the past 5 years, Winfield Township has received and reinvested over $200,000.00 in ACT 13 funding back into the roadway to replaces failing bridge infrastructure, realign and elevate intersections to make them safer, and improve more roads faster as a result of the additional funding. We received just south of $300,000. The other funds were reinvested in Public Safety and Planning initiatives.
So, I said earlier that chip seals are a cost saving road maintenance method…. How much of a cost saving method you ask? This year, we will pay $1.03 per square yard for seal coating. So remember how I said Winfield Township maintains just over 40 miles of road? That converts to 211,200 feet or (assuming a 20 foot road width) 469,333 square yards. So to seal coat every road in the Township in one year at $1.03 per SY would cost almost $470,000.00 versus over 7 Million dollars to pave every road.
So realistically, the answer is somewhere in the middle. We do a mix of paving projects in-house and sometimes outsourced to a paving company and we also do a yearly seal coating project to make sure that the asphalt on the roadway does not dry out and crack. All of our road are worked into a Road Maintenance schedule that will repeat itself every three years to ensure that no road is left untouched for too long, allowing it to fall apart. It also allows us time to address any storm water issues that may exist on the roads. Because, if you cannot get the water off and away from the roadway, no schedule or amount of money will be able to keep up with mother nature. As an example, this year alone, we have invested over $60,000 in storm water projects!
I recognize that the chip seal is an inconvenience for us all… It is only temporary… Not only do we do it to make sure that you all have safe roads to travel day-to-day, we also do it to be responsible with your tax dollars and make sure that we can continue to keep your taxes at an affordable level. We are proud to say that our local taxes are only 5 Mills. 1 Mill means that for every $1,000 of assessed value, you pay one dollar. That means that for every $1,000 in assessed value of your property, you pay only 5 dollars. Yes, you read that correctly…. for every thousand dollars of assessed value. It may sound like a lot if you purchased your home for $200,000, but that it not the case. Butler County operates on 1969 assessed values of property so most properties in Winfield Township are assessed approximately $20,000.00. You do the math, that is $100.00.
So while it may seem cheap and messy, chip seal is an economical way for Municipalities to preserve the life of their roadways while keeping taxes reasonable for their Residents.
If you are curious, we do have a Capital Improvement Plan that lays out our Plan for Improvement through 2022… You can look at it here.
I hope this provides everyone with a little bit better understanding of why we do things the way we do here in Winfield Township. If you have any questions or comments, I would welcome them at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.
Yours in Service,
Adam Hartwig, Township Secretary