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March 8, 2013
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Pothole event horizon on way

Douglas County is standing on the edge of a $165 million pothole, according to a report scheduled to go before commissioners Thursday.

Officials will be pitching a means to pay to fill that pothole.

The amount is the worth of the county¹s roads, its largest fixed asset.

County engineers say that its roads are right on the edge of the pothole cliff, representing the point at which the cost of repairing roads begins to rapidly increase.

According to a report going to county commissioners, maintaining county roads at their current condition will require $4.5 million a year. Right now the county is paying $450,000 a year, which doesn’t include a backlog of $30 million in repairs that have been deferred from prior years.

Most of the county¹s roads are hitting the age of 15 without major maintenance, after which it will all be downhill.

³Funding road construction has always been a problem in Douglas County,² county road engineers noted.

Last year¹s priority-based budgeting project, which solicited online

participation, revealed that a quarter of those responding favored providing

a reliable well-maintained infrastructure. The state of county roads have

prompted complaints from residents, including a November front-page story in

The Record-Courier about the state of county maintained roads at Topaz Lake.

A menu of taxing options is being presented to commissioners on Thursday

along with the annual report on the transportation plan.

Among those options are an increase in the utility operator fee, taking the

gas tax to 9 cents a gallon (an option that failed to win support in 2011),

or increasing the sales tax, according to a report prepared by Public Works

Director Carl Ruschmeyer.

Every percent of the operator fee on natural gas, electricity and

telecommunications would raise $800,000 a year, Ruschmeyer said. The nickel

gas tax would raise $900,000 a year. A .25 percent infrastructure sales tax

would raise $1.3 million a year and a half-cent sales tax increase for

public transit and road maintenance would raise $2.6 million, but would

require a public vote. The three options county commissioners are authorized

to raise on their own would still be $1 million short of the amount

Ruschmeyer said is needed to maintain roads in their current condition.

Kurt Hildebrand is editor of The Record-Courier. Reach him at or 782-5121, ext. 215.

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The Record Courier Updated Apr 5, 2013 08:54PM Published Mar 8, 2013 11:36AM Copyright 2013 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.