Introduction

The Otsego County Road Commission is comprised of thirty-two full-time employees and a three member Board of Commissioners.  The Commissioners are elected for six-year terms with terms being staggered to allow for an election every two years.  The benefits and salaries of the commissioners are governed by the Board of County Commissioners.  The current Board consists of:

Chairman:  David Matelski
Vice Chairman:  William Holewinski
Member:  Troy Huff

The Board meets on every third Thursday of every month at 9:00 a.m.  Notices changing meeting times will be posted on our Home page. Special meetings are occasionally held at other times as needed.  The Board meetings are open to the public.  All public comments are handled at approximately 9:15 a.m. unless specifically scheduled with the Road Commission.

Funding

The question that gets asked most at the Road Commission is: I pay all these property taxes, why can’t I get my road fixed?  Actually, to the surprise of most people, we do not receive any property tax.  Not directly anyway.  Some property tax does get back to the roads in the form of township participation on Local Road upgrades.  No property tax comes to us for maintenance of the roads.  On the average, 79% of your property tax goes to our education system, 18% goes to the County (Not the Road Commission) and 3% goes to the township.  A ten (10) year road millage in Otsego County was voted on and approved by the voters in 2014.

County vs. Platted vs. Private

Prior to 1932 all County roads were taken care of by each respective Township.  In 1931 Public Act No. 130 was passed and was called the Township Road Relief Act.  It is now referred to as the McNitt Act.  This act required the Counties to set up a Road Commission for the whole County and to take over jurisdiction of 20% of the townships’ roads each year, 1932 through 1936.  These roads were certified with the State of Michigan and became the base of each Road Commission’s network of roads.  There were two types of roads that were not certified by the Road Commission during these years:  Private roads and Platted roads that only existed on paper.  Private roads are any roads that have ownership of the right-of-way.  There are still many platted roads in the county that have never been developed.  They have been dedicated for the use of the public by some supervisor’s plat but are no longer marked and in many cases are wooded over.  The adjoining property owners on these roads can get them abandoned in Circuit Court or they could be improved and made into County maintained roads, but most of them just lay forgotten.

The Right-Of-Way

Road right-of-way under the jurisdiction of the Road Commission varies in width, generally from 66 to 80 feet depending on the type of road and use at the time.  When you consider twenty to twenty-four feet of pavement, six to eight feet of shoulder on each side and eight to ten feet of ditch on each side, the sixty-six foot width is used up in a hurry.

Gravel Roads

For those of you living on a gravel road, there is no immediate relief.  In the summer it is bumpy and dusty, in the winter it is slippery and the last to be plowed, and in the spring it can be muddy.  Sound familiar?  A solution, of course, is pavement but even that has its drawbacks as it tends to increase the amount of traffic on the road as well as speeds.

Snowplowing

Otsego County receives, on average, 150 inches of snow in a winter.  This snow compounded by the drifting that we get, makes a job of keeping roads open all winter.  We have twelve men assigned to snowplow routes on county roads, plus four on I-75 and M-32 and two night men.  Generally we don’t like to work the day shift over eight to ten hours as it is more dangerous plowing at night, and we want them rested for the next morning.  However, they sometimes work seven days a week during the winter.

Liability

These days everyone is touched by liability concerns. We all pay extra for every product we buy to cover liability costs. Your Road Commission is not exempt from our legal system. Millions of potential road dollars are instead spent each year on defense of cases or awards of others. The Otsego County Road Commission has saved a lot of money by joining other Road Commissions in a pool and become self-insured.

Speed Limits in Otsego County

Speed limits are a tough subject. Sometimes it appears that a good share of drivers would like to drive 70 MPH past everybody else’s house and have everyone drive 25 MPH past theirs! Michigan’s Basic Speed Law takes precedence over all other speed laws and reads as follows: “Any person driving a vehicle on a highway shall drive the same at a careful and prudent speed not greater than nor less than is reasonable and proper, having due regard to the traffic, surface and width of the highway and any other existing conditions, and no person shall drive any vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than will permit him/her to bring it to a stop within the assured clear distance ahead”.