I have often wished that property owners would have to write two checks when paying their annual ad valorem tax. This would help taxpayers realize the breakdown of where their money goes and how little the county receives.
Recently, in reviewing a tax statement for one of the more expensive homes in Logan County, I noticed that the property tax was $14,550. Of that, $1,727.87 went to general government. The county health department received $431.85 and the remaining $12,390.28 went to public education. None went to roads, because property taxes do not fund roads. Fuel tax does.
Since one of the comments commissioners frequently hear is “I pay enough in property tax! My road should be improved,” I wanted to share some facts with you that explain the challenge we face in local government in funding roads.
Based upon figures put together by the county budget maker, the county receives approximately $4,140 per mile for road maintenance.
We’ve just opened bids for the new fiscal year for rock and rock hauling. The price of gravel when we pick it up at the quarry now ranges from $9.25 to $11.00 per ton. It takes 40 loads of rock to apply 4″ of gravel on one mile of roadway. This means that as of July 1, it will cost $9,250 to $11,000 per mile for rock. Since the county receives just $4,140 per mile, you can understand the struggle we face in maintaining hundreds of miles of roadway. And that does not take into consideration the many other expenses involved in preparing a road base prior to applying rock.
For example…the 1 1/2″ crusher run that we use on District 1 roads comes from quarries in either Cushing or Pawnee. Weather is a factor in determining which quarry we use. When wet weather sets in, the Cushing quarry is sometimes closed. This means our drivers must travel to Pawnee. The drive time to Pawnee and back is approximately three hours, compared to the 90 minute round trip to Cushing. However, it can require a half-day of waiting at Cushing for a truckload. Generally, the wait in Pawnee has been less lengthy.
Our drivers can average three loads a day from Cushing or two per day from Pawnee. It requires much more time to transport rock to the shop than to deliver it from the shop to county roads.
Now factor in manpower, fuel and the equipment needed to cut back vegetation from right-of-way, establish drainage ditches, grade, compact and prepare roadbase so that applying gravel is not a waste, and you can see how expensive and time-consuming it becomes to improve just one mile of roadway….with the availability of that $4,140.
Fortunately, we sometimes have access to funding in addition to what we receive from fuel tax. The county’s major road and bridge improvements are financed through state and federal programs. More information about the source of that funding is contained within articles posted on the website at www.commissiondistrict1.com.