Orchard City Mayor Don Suppes sees rough roads ahead for the town as funding for its network of roads becomes ever harder to come by.
During a town board work session on Nov. 7, Suppes said he wants to begin taking steps now to alert and inform town residents of the looming problems with town road funding.
He told his board of trustees he sees "a lack of understanding generally" about how the town's budget works.
"This is not a never-ending flow of money," coming in for the town's roads, Suppes told his trustees. "It doesn't take rocket science to see what is happening. The (state gas tax receipts) are going down and the cost of asphalt is going up."
Suppes noted that many people think the town's $4 million cash balance cushion, acquired through generations of conservative financial management, is sufficient to carry Orchard City through any difficulty.
"Just a couple of emergencies could use that up in a hurry," Suppes cautioned, and he emphasized again that the town's regular revenue stream for roads is declining as costs continue to rise.
The mayor told trustees that he wants to conduct a town-wide survey next year. The survey would quiz residents on their thoughts about the condition of town roads; about how they think needed road work might be paid for; and, how residents would be willing to pay for the needed work.
Orchard City is taking from its general fund revenues to pay for town road work next year. The town's general fund relies heavily on receipts from state severance tax, federal minerals leasing payments, and the town's share of the county sales tax, Suppes explained. In 2013, $112,000 will be transferred to the road fund for needed maintenance work. There is $150,000 for improvements projects in the proposed budget for next year.
There will be "serious expenditures in the next five to ten years" just to maintain the current condition of town roads without additional improvements, Suppes said. The needed work will include crack seal, chip seal, and overlay.
Suppes estimates that necessary spending on town roads by itself would be enough to run the town's general fund to a zero balance over a five- to ten-year period. "We need to make some plans for the future," Suppes told the trustees.
When Suppes first won election to mayor four years ago, he stated his intention to address the needs of town roads.
The $385,000 proposed budget next year for town roads, including $250,000 for projects and capital spending, will take the available balance in the road fund to essentially zero. That means there would be no cash carry-over to begin the 2014 budget year. It would also mean that in the event of an emergency, funds would have to be diverted from other town spending priorities, including possibly parks, to pay for it.
Suppes called running the road fund to a zero balance, "A wake up call. I want to make this an issue and wake people up," Suppes said.
The town's road fund will begin 2013 with a $150,000 carryover cash balance from 2012. Income to the fund for 2013 includes the general fund transfer and $1,500 interest.
County revenue for the fund includes $2,000 from vehicle sales taxes, $13,000 motor vehicle fees, and $10,000 from the county road and bridge fund.
The state chips in $108,000 from the gasoline tax, down from $147,000 in 2011.
Projected spending in the town's road fund includes almost $85,000 for general operations, about $50,000 for administration, and $250,000 in projects and capital costs.
The town's 2013 budget will get final approval in December.blog comments powered by Disqus