July 21, 2009 10:59:00 AM
Tim Pratt -
STARKVILLE -- Oktibbeha County District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer made progress Monday in his quest to pave the county''s vast network of gravel roads, but fellow board members held off on his request to pursue a bond issue for major infrastructure improvements.
District 3 Supervisor Marvell Howard said he would like to know more about a bond issue, such as road mileage projections and cost estimates, before agreeing to spend county funds. But he called Trainer''s plan "a good idea."
"I think we need to get some nuts and bolts," Howard said. "I want to pave every road in District 3, but I need to know what I''m committing the citizens to before we do something like this."
District 4 Supervisor Daniel Jackson said he doesn''t think all the rural roads in the county need to be paved, but also told Trainer he wouldn''t "get in the way" of a long-term paving project exclusively for District 2 if Trainer came up with one. The board might have to pursue legislation at the state level, however, if Trainer were to come up with a plan exclusively for District 2, he said.
Trainer called Howard and Jackson''s support "encouraging."
Still, the board took no action. District 1 Supervisor Carl Clardy recommended the board wait until October, after the 2009-2010 budget is complete, to determine how much money is available for a long-term project.
One of the challenges facing the county, aside from a lack of funds, is the amount of bond debt it can incur. The county can only be indebted up to 15 percent of its total assessed value, which County Administrator Don Posey estimated to be more than $300 million. Fifteen percent of the county''s assessed value is roughly $50 million, of which up to $27.5 million will be used up with the recently approved Oktibbeha County Hospital bond issue.
According to Trainer, the county can incur about $20 million more in bond debt to reach its limit.
Jackson, Clardy and Howard, however, were leery about tying up the final $20 million.
"I couldn''t go to the max," Clardy said.
"It''s foolish," Jackson agreed.
Posey said it costs about $320,000 to pave a mile of road, which would bring the cost up to about $32 million to build 100 miles of road. The county has more than 200 miles of roads, about half of which are unpaved.
Trainer said he would like to see the county bring in some independent consultants to study county roadways and come up with project estimates and additional details.
"We might not do everything I want to do, but anything more than what we''re doing now is an improvement," Trainer said.