If taxpayers were willing to fund $1 million extra a year, in 25 years all the roads in the county that needed resurfacing could be completed.
That’s what Road Supervisor Charles Ross told the finance, ways & means committee of the Weakley County Commission.
In the past Ross has told the public works committee that although a previous county road supervisor obtained the funds to pave almost every county road, and that once a road is paved, it can only be repaired with more hot mix asphalt. The cost of hot mix, which is petroleum-based, rises almost yearly. Right now Ross said it costs around $83,000 to pave one mile of road, and other expenses such as striping raise the cost to almost $100,000. He has no funds allocated in his 2018-19 budget for hot mix. Instead he is trying to repair asphalt roads with chip and tar type surfacing.
“This is a can we’ve been kicking down the road for 20 years,” Ross said.
He also told the committee that even with a commitment of $1 million a year for 25 years, more funds would be needed. The industry standard is to repave roads every 20 years, he said, so before all the roads had been resurfaced the first five years of repaving would have to be redone, as well.
Commissioners who have heard this information before simply stared at Ross gloomily and offered no solutions.
Ross also told the committee that he had added $250,000 to his budget to renovate the county garage and offices. He said the 42-year-old building had water and sewer line leaks that were inside concrete block walls or floors and couldn’t be repaired. He said he also needed to enclose the now-open shop where road department vehicles are housed and repaired, add a meeting room and build a new office space. He offered to supervise the renovation himself, but appealed to the committee to find another way to finance either renovation or construction of a new building.
“I don’t think this should have to come out of highway funds,” he said, which should only be used for road repair and maintenance.
“We need to keep the fund balance at $600,000 for bad winters,” Ross said.
Committee Member Larry Taylor suggested issuing a capital outlay note which could be paid out of the debt service.
Roger Donaldson and Dennis Doster also expressed concern that spending money renovating the old building wasn’t a good use of county funds and recommended the commission consider constructing a new facility.
Ross’ budget as presented was tentatively approved by the committee for presentation to the full commission.
See the June 14 issue for more #localnews.