County Road Dept. equipment needs mount

Published 12:11 pm Friday, September 12, 2008

Keeping up with county road equipment is a lot like maintaining an old car—only on a much larger, more expensive scale.

And in a year when revenues are down for the Pike County Road Department, they are doing all they can to scrape by with the “old cars” they already have, said County Engineer Russell Oliver.

While this year Oliver had to sell some $530,000 in equipment to prevent a budget deficit in the upcoming fiscal year, he said that won’t be an option in the future, and he hopes the commission will find some way to help.

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In Monday’s meeting, Oliver presented an estimate of the road departments equipment needs for the next 10 years and said if the commission sets asides equipment funding each year, the department will be in good shape.

“Perhaps our biggest need is equipment. We can not build or repair roads without it,” Oliver said. “In order to meet this need, some of our commissioners asked for us to make a 10-year equipment outlay.”

In the 10-year Equipment Outlay, Oliver said placing around $160,000 aside each year for equipment needs will mean big savings for the county in the future, as they are currently paying about $329,000 annually to pay off previous loans.

“The idea is to plan ahead and set aside a certain amount of money each year, in order to keep us from having to borrow larges sums of money and having to pay interest on them,” Oliver said.

Oliver said this equipment plan is nowhere near being passed at the commission table, but it is just something they are starting to look into.

Several commissioners have expressed concerns for road department funding and a desire to find more income for them at the commission meetings.

But with the need for a reserve equipment fund, Oliver said there has to come some new source of revenue in the county.

“The problem is, where does the money come from?” Oliver said. “I do know our commissioners are working hard and trying to be creative, but this is a tough time for road department funding, and it’s not a problem unique to Pike County.”

Oliver said there are several different sources of revenues for the road department, but their largest comes from gas tax.

With a decline in gas tax revenues across the country, Oliver said other places have discussed increasing gas tax or indexing gas tax. But, he’s not sure what the commissioners have planned locally.

“I don’t know that our commissioners have discussed, but I do know that our commissars are looking at ways to increase revenue without placing the burden on Pike County,” Oliver said.