July 29, 2010

County Seeking More Tax Money for Road Rock

A year after it was soundly defeated by voters, the county will again be seeking a tax increase for road rock services on the August 3rd primary election ballot. This time, the ballot issue will seek to raise the tax from $0.25 to $0.75 per agriculture acre, a hike of 50 cents.

In August of 2009 voters said no by a 807 to 398 margin to a ballot issue seeking to raise the tax to $1.00.

After the ballot issued failed in 2009, the county commission was forced to make budget cuts in the road and bridge department.

In January the commission announced a policy change for 2010, reducing the amount of road rock spread from 160 tons per mile down to 120 tons of gravel per mile of county road.

The issue was in part blamed on extremely wet weather the two previous years, a problem that has only been further magnified by this years extremely wet weather.

The failure of the ballot issue in conjunction with the extreme conditions forced the county to turn to private funding to help maintain some gravel roads. Property owners can purchase a semi-load, approximately 24 tons, of road rock for $200, or can pay $9 per ton to have an entire gravel road done.

Under the price system, it costs property owners $360 per mile for the additional 40 tons of gravel to return the road from the 120 ton ratio back to the original 160 ton per mile ratio.

In 2009 Scotland County expended $422,000 on road rock, exceeding the budgeted gravel fund by more than $100,000.

The current $0.25 levy is expected to generate approximately $65,000 for road rock this year. The remainder of the $344,000 rock budget comes from the road and bridge fund, specifically from state fuel sales tax revenues through the County Aid Road Trust (CART) fund.

For every $0.25 the road rock tax rate increases, it would generate an additional $65,000 to be spent on gravel for county roads. If the $0.75 levy is approved, it would generate approximately $130,000 in new revenue for road rock.

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