Pothole event horizon on way
March 8, 2013
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.
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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 email@example.com or 782-5121, ext. 215.