I recently attended a Homeowners Association Meeting where members of the HOA were exploring options for funding road improvements within their addition. Since the county has limited resources and approximately 1206 miles to maintain on a shoestring budget, resourcefulness on the part of citizens is much appreciated. In fact, citizen donations and cooperative efforts between local government and the public have enabled a variety of improvements throughout the county. Copies of donation resolutions we keep in our office and on file at the county clerk’s office reveal that since January of last year, in District 1 alone, the public has contributed $38,566 toward the purchase of asphalt, tin horns and rock. Numerous donations have been made in other road districts as well.
Some may ask, “Why are donations needed? Don’t we pay property taxes to maintain roads?” Though this myth prevails, the answer is no. Property taxes do not fund roads. The majority of property tax funds public education. The small portion the county receives pays for upkeep of the courthouse and jail, the county health department and salaries of elected officials.
The prevalence of the property tax myth is why periodically I like to provide an update about the amount of funding commission districts have to work with to provide road maintenance.
Based upon 2011 figures, the average amount of Highway Cash the county receives each month is $253,389. This is divided by three road districts. The approximate amount each district receives is $84,463. District 1 uses their portion to pay the following averaged monthly expenses:
$27,408 for 12 employees
$2250 for FICA
$4400 for retirement
$15,568 for lease/purchase of equipment
$1200 for travel
$33,985 for maintenance and operations (M&O)
M&O pays for fuel at approximately $7500 @month, rock at approximately $6000 per month, and asphalt up to $10,000 per month, depending on weather and the opportunity for patching, as well as signs, tires, utilities, repairs, parts and services.
Major paving improvements which can range in cost from $76,000 per mile upward are funded through special state and federal programs. To qualify for these, we must meet stringent criteria. Some funding is available only for roads which are classified as major collectors. Other funding is based on federally-regulated safety issues, population and traffic counts. We have to compete with many entities for this funding. That is why when citizens come forward with initiative to work together to make their own improvements, we appreciate their efforts and do our best to assist in the endeavor.