The old #1 song “I Wanna Rock” may be the new theme for the Scotland County Road & Bridge Department after the Scotland County Commission announced on January 19th that the county will be upping its road rock allotment from 150 tons to 170 tons per mile of road.
Special funding for the road rock has been around for nearly 20 years. The statute governing the special road rock tax, 231.444, was passed in 1998, authorizing $0.25/agricultural or horticultural acre to be collected for the sole purpose of placing rock on county roads.
According to Scotland County Clerk Batina Dodge, county voters approved the tax issue in November 1999 with 540 yes votes to 106 no votes.
“In August 2010, after legislation passed allowing collection of up to $1.00/ ag acre, Scotland County voters voted 650 yes to 597 no, to increase our collection rate to $0.75,” said Dodge.
She explained that half of the county roads are rocked each year. The northwest and southeast quadrants are done in odd numbered years, and northeast and southwest in even numbered years.
“This is 1/2 of each associate commissioner’s district,” Dodge said explaining the rationale for the splits.
The northeast and southwest quadrants each have slightly more than 133 miles of county gravel roads while the southeast quadrant has 128 and the northwest quadrant has just shy of 119 miles. Combined, the county maintains more than 513 miles of non-hard surface roads.
In 2005 the rock application rate was 120 ton/mile. After the tax expansion was passed in 2010, the application rate increased to 150 tons per mile in 2011.
Not all of the 513 miles of county roads, receive road rock. Dirt roads are not included in the rock program until a private party agrees to purchase 300 ton per mile of rock to transition the dirt road to a gravel surface. “This is a one-time transaction,” said Dodge. “After that, the road will receive rock at the regular application rate, every other year.”
In 2015, the county applied 33,566 tons of rock to county roads, following that up with 28,738 tons in 2016. Over that time period, the county spent just shy of $600,000 on road rock.
“Rock is the only thing paid from the special road rock fund,” said Dodge. “However, that fund alone does not generate enough revenue to pay for all the rock hauled each year. The special road and bridge fund pays for the remainder. The special road rock tax does defray the cost of rock so that the special road and bridge fund can purchase needed equipment, etc.”
The road rock tax generates roughly $200,000 a year in revenue solely for the purchase of road rock. An additional $150,000 a year has been budgeted from the special road and bridge fund for rock purchase.
On top of the $350,000 the county has earmarked for road rock, officials anticipate anywhere from $45,000 to $60,000 of additional road rock being purchased by private property owners who wish to surpass the 170 ton per mile ratio, or whom wish to turn a dirt road into a gravel surface.
The local rock allocation compares favorably to other area counties. A recent survey conducted by the county, showed that Shelby and Lewis County, which do not have special rock tax levies, only allot 75 tons per mile of road rock, while Adair County does 100 tons per mile every other year.
While Adair County has 638 miles of county roads to maintain, Shelby County is similar to Scotland County with 521 miles while Lewis County actually has less, at 428 miles.
Also factoring into the county’s budgeting process is the increasing price of road rock and hauling. Since 2010, the price has risen from $6.25 to $8.40.