February 26, 2010 11:06:00 AM
A majority of the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors Thursday said they''d rather borrow the money needed for emergency road repairs, than reallocate funds already approved for the county''s road plan.
County Road Manager Ronnie Burns earlier told the supervisors portions of 18 county roads are "crumbling" and "in really bad shape," because of recent inclement weather and estimated $2.1 million is needed to repave the bad roads.
The supervisors held a workshop Thursday to discuss the emergency road repairs and ways to fund the work; no action was taken during the workshop.
Board President and District 1 Supervisor Harry Sanders suggested amending the road plan and reallocating the funds earlier set aside to pave portions of five roads -- Cal-Steens, Officer''s Lake, Beersheba, Hughes and Taylor Thurston roads -- to pay for repairs on the 18 bad roads.
"I don''t see any other place we can get the money," Sanders said. "These are hard economic times and we need to tighten our budget."
"If we''re in such hard times, why are we looking at (improving) parks and recreation?" asked District 2 Supervisor Frank Ferguson. "We need the roads more than we do the parks."
"The emergency to the roads came after we committed (money to construct a soccer complex in the Burns Bottom area and to renovate the county''s existing neighborhood parks)," Sanders responded.
"We get real innovative when we want to spend money," noted District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks, suggesting the county borrow the money for the road work. "The taxpayer''s going to have to pay this money. But we get real innovative. Another $2.5 million ain''t going to break the bank.
"A lot of this, the average citizen may not benefit from it," Brooks added, noting the county has committed about $31 million to projects.
The projects Brooks cited include the purchase and renovation of a building for new county administrative office space, renovation of the Lowndes County Courthouse, the land purchase and construction of a new Health Department facility, $3.25 million for the soccer complex, $850,000 for the neighborhood parks renovation project, and money for construction of a new Justice Court building, as well as more than $8 million for water, sewer and infrastructure work at the Golden Triangle Regional Global Aerospace Industrial Park and more than $11 million for land purchases for the park.
"We don''t have $30 million to do any of this, but we commit to it," Brooks said. "It''s hard to say we don''t have money. If we''re willing to commit the taxpayers to $31 million, we can commit them to another $2 million to fix the roads. The only thing I keep hearing is we can''t, but we''re going to make this work."
District 3 Supervisor John Holliman asked how the county plans to care for roads next year and in future years.
"There may have to be some sacrifices made in other places," Brooks said. "I think it''s about taking the budget and being innovative with it."
"It seems to me you take care of what needs to be fixed right now, before you pave these roads," Sanders said, again suggesting the road plan money be diverted for emergency repairs.
"I''ve watched us be very creative when we have to be," said District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith. "I''m not in favor of setting aside this year''s road plan, because those roads need to be done. We do need to make a decision on funding these (additional) roads. It''s just a matter of the willingness of this board to step up and make some hard decisions."
County Administrator Ralph Billingsley suggested using the money committed for the neighborhood parks renovations -- $850,000 which likely wouldn''t be needed in the current budget year -- and delaying the regular road paving until next year''s budget period, which begins in September, but Smith, Brooks and Ferguson opposed delaying the road plan paving.
"Ralph, it''s all critical," Brooks said of the road repairs and road plan needs. "(The road plan roads) are all critical needs."
Brooks said the supervisors may need to "raise taxes" to fund the road repairs.
"We''re willing to spend a lot of money for things we hope will happen," he said, referring to projects for which the county committed funds. "$2 million is not going to break us. We have a lot of flexibility."
"Why are we going to spend $1 million on roads not in critical shape at the expense of these that are torn up?" Sanders asked, referring to the road plan. "I''m not borrowing any money, not when we''ve got the money already there."
"There is one thing most citizens have in common," said Brooks. "They ride on these roads. $30 million is not a little piece of change. $2 million, in the grand scheme of things, is not a lot of money. The one thing people are looking for is (good) roads.
"They''re not interested in whether we have a brand new (administrative building) and a lot of people aren''t going to use the Health Department," he continued. "A lot of people aren''t going to use the parks, although those things are needed. On economic development, taxes will have to be raised to defray $20 million in costs. If we are willing to raise millage to do this, which is needed, we ought to have the commitment to take care of these people''s roads. Let''s take care of some of these people that may not benefit (from other projects). All they want is decent roads."
Smith, Ferguson and Brooks agreed the county should borrow $2.1 million for Burns to use to repair the roads, but a vote on the matter was not taken during the workshop.
Burns earlier said portions of the following roads needed to be paved: Dale, Dowdle, Williams, Cobb, Minnie Vaughn, Adams, Halbert, Brewer, Wicks, Fire Tower, Bud Price, Steger, Evans, Allison Hardy, Talley and Shaeffers Chapel roads.
Additionally, he said patching work should be done on William Greer, Sanders Mill and Freeman roads, Military Chapel Circle, Military Chapel, Land, McClemore, Blaylock, Lonesome Dove roads, Omega Drive, Canfield, Hardy Billups, Nick Hairston, Sam Hill roads, Hairston Bend, Gilmer Wilburn Road and Prairie Path.
ETG commented at 2/26/2010 1:15:00 PM:
Why is S.Lehmberg Road not on EITHER of the lists? It is the MOST heavily traveled of ANY of the roads on both lists (paving and patching) and is literally falling apart more every day. What is it gonna take, supes, to put aside your petty bickering and take care of the people of this county? Oh, and, by the way, we do NOT need to be borrowing money. Period. It has to be paid back, and where is it gonna come from?? Shelve the nonsensical plan to pave Officer's Lake, et al, and use some common sense for a change!!!!!
BLH commented at 2/26/2010 8:12:00 PM:
Ref: Lowndes Supes Want to Borrow Money For Roads
At a time that revenues are falling and projected to fall more the talk of borrowing money sure scares me. How can a Supervisor Brooks advocate that an additional 8.3% debt load as "...ain't going to break the bank". I can remember when a U. S. Senator said that a million here and a million there pretty soon you are talking a lot of money. On top of that to state that "A lot of this, the average citizen may not benefit from it", then why did that supervisor lead the fight to get most of them funded? He certainly did not vote against the commitment/s for the industrial park. All of the supervisors have fought so hard for what they perceive as their fair share of road money they have forgotten the CITIZENS of Lowndes County voted for the UNIT system for a reason. That means the Road Manager makes the recommendations for the road plan based on actual need, not what the supervisors want in their district. I believe the citizens want what is right for the Lowndes County by modifying the the existing road plane and use the exiting road funds available and not mortgage our future ability to do the road plan by having the money already spent to pay off a debt.
marv commented at 2/27/2010 7:05:00 PM:
DOES ANYONE THINK WE ARE GOING TO GET A BYPASS IN 10 YEARS? EVEN IF WE DO WE CAN NOT WAIT AND DO NOTHING UNTIL THEN. DOES ANYONE THINK THE NEW SCHOOL IS IN A GOOD OR EVEN HALF WAY GOOD LOCATION. IF WE DON'T THINK AHEAD AND DO LIKE LOWNDES COUNTY HAS DONE IN THE PAST WE WILL BE IN THE BIGGEST MESS OF TRAFFIC JAMS YOU HAVE EVER SEEN. I THINK OFFICERS LAKE ROAD WILL BE A BIG HELP. AT LEAST SOMEONE IS TRYING TO LOOK AHEAD! LEHMBERG ROAD HAS ALWAYS BEEN A SUPER MESS. IT HAS TO BE REDONE SOON. 10 YEARS IS A LONG TIME TO DO NOTHING. WE ARE ALL IN THE SAME BOAT BUT ONLY A FEW WANT TO PADDLE. THE OTHERS JUST P--- AND MOAN !!!!!
ETG commented at 2/28/2010 12:24:00 PM:
The location of the new city school is not a justification for the county paving Officers Lake. The stupidity of city officials is the reason for the school being where it is; let THEM pay for the paving of O'Lake Rd, if it is really all that necessary!!!
marv commented at 2/28/2010 4:52:00 PM:
ETG, THAT'S A GREAT ANSWER (NOT !)YOU MUST BE LIVING UNDER A ROCK. I GUESS YOU WOULD LIKE TO DO NOTHING IF IT COST MONEY. EVERYONE WANTS THEIR ROAD PAVED BUT NO ONE ELSE CAN GET THEIRS PAVED. GOOD THINKING. DUH !!!
jack commented at 2/28/2010 7:51:00 PM:
I wish more people were trying to solve the traffic problem like Mr. Ferguson. From what I have seen He has paved and fixed more roads in 2 years or so that I have seen in the last 10 years. Its the same old story- people don't care about anybody else road - just fix theirs. If it is going to take 10 years for a bypass a lot of us will be dead and gone. Oh the new school is in the worse place you could have put it. Who got the prize for picking this great location? What if this new system does not work. What will they build next? Where ever they build it will have to be the 2nd worse place !!!
epa commented at 2/28/2010 9:16:00 PM:
Does anyone not see the advanage of paving Officers lake road? There are a lot of us that would use it to come to columbus and not have to use hwy 45. From what I can tell the new school is going to be a real traffic jam. More people would go to Columbus if we didn't have to get on hwy 45. I would hope they would do a lot more on the other road (I think it is Waverly). We would like to come to Columbus to eat and shop. There is not much here in West Point. I see a lot of Clay County cars and trucks everytime we come over there.