Are there other options?

Published 8:33 pm Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Pike County Commission hasn’t made the move yet, but discussion last week indicated increasing its debt is a likely option for saving a sinking road department.

Yet, that’s an option County Administrator Harry Sanders said the commission might be able to avoid.

The commission already is working to repay what was once a $10 million debt in its general fund, and debt service has been a key issue among commissioners for several years. Given that focus, some commission members may be hesitant to seek additional debt.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“We don’t want to step out and have loans until we are absolutely sure we have to,” Sanders said.

The discussion over increasing debt comes after County Engineer Russell Oliver told commissioners last week his budget could fall $80,000 short at the end of this budget year, which is Sept. 31.

The commission will take out at least one line of credit for the road department, but it’s a loan that will be reimbursed with state funds. The $916,000 loan will allow the commission to begin resurfacing Henderson Highway and repaving County Road 7708.

Recently, the commission discussed taking two other lines of credit from the bank, one for $141,000 to be used to match federal grant money, which will fund the repaving of county roads 2276, 2290, 7755 and 3327. A second line of credit would simply provide funds to keep road department operations afloat. No specific dollar amount has been provided for that line of credit.

Even though many commissioners said this could be the only option, Sanders said there could be another way.

In the beginning of the year, Sanders projected the county’s General Fund budget, which funds all county services except the road department, would fall short around $70,000 of revenues. To date, the budget is performing better than projected.

“I don’t want to get too optimistic because I don’t know what June, July, August and September will do for us,” Sanders said. “We’re keeping an eye on it, but so far we’re managing through it without many problems.”

If excess revenues were available in the General Fund budget, Sanders said funds could be transferred to the road department.

“The first issue would be can you do it? And yes, you can move money,” Sanders said. “The number two issue is do you have the funds available to move?”

Sanders said only by daily management and closely watching funds will department administrators know how much, if any, is available to aid the road department.

The commission will meet at 6 p.m. Monday in the County Health Department to discuss this funding situation.