Commissioners move Priority Road Funds to Road Materials Fund

Road work behind after years of cuts, they say

By Roxanne Thompson, Staff Writer

When Limestone County commissioners court voted at its June 13 meeting to move almost all the $300,000 from the Road and Bridge Contingencies Fund – also called the Priority Roads Fund – into the Road and Bridge Materials Fund, the vote was 3-2, far from the usually unanimous votes that characterize the court’s decisions.

Of the total money available, $5,181 allocated to purchasing a pressure washer, and all the resr – $294,819 – went to the Road Material Fund.

Three of the commissioners, Pct. 1 John McCarver, Pct. 2 W.A. “Sonny” Baker, and Pct. 4 Bobby Forrest, voted to make the transfer, McCarver and Forrest arguing that they had seen significant decreases in road repair money the past few years and needed to get the funds back into Road and Bridge so they could use the money to make repairs before the fiscal year ends.

“Judge, over the last few years, we took quite a bit of cuts on our road material,” McCarver said. “The last four years, probably what, a million-something?”

McCarver said that even non-priority roads need work done on them and invited Burkeen to ask Road Administrator Jerry Herin if he wanted confirmation of his statement.

Forrest agreed with McCarver on the severity of the cuts, saying the budgeted amount had dropped from as much as $1.5 million down to $900,000. He added that the commissioners needed to make the funds available quickly since there were only a little over three months left in the fiscal year.

“We’ll know where we are, and everybody can make plans to do roads and to use that money for the people on our roads by the end of September,” Forrest said. “We just need to do that; we can’t afford any more cuts in road material.”

Commissioner Pct. 3 Jerry Allen and County Judge Daniel Burkeen voted against the transfer of funds but for different reasons.

Allen thought moving all the money out of the Road and Bridge Contingencies Fund was risky in that the Road and Bridge Department would not have money to fall back on in case a big expense arose, such as a repair of the heavy machinery the Department uses.

Allen also suggested that the court spend some of the money paying half the cost of a new pug mill, which is the machine that mixes oil and sand for road surfacing; then paying the other half out of next fiscal year’s budget.

“Our pug mill is getting old,” Allen said. “Jerry (Herin) is having to have everything that breaks down made at a shop fabrication.”

To read more of this story, pick up a copy of Thursday's edition of The Groesbeck Journal! You can also subscribe online or call 254-729-5103.

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