The subject of town roads is one that Orchard City residents will be hearing a lot about in coming months.
The mayor has gone on record saying he plans to make a issue of the twin problems being confronted: declining revenues for maintaining roads, and the declining condition of the town's roads.
The crisis that has been declared in the town's road fund is underscored by the 2013 budget. In 2013, the town will end the year with a zero balance in its road fund. That will leave only general fund money left for dealing with any emergencies that might arise, and a declining revenue stream from other sources to fund normal maintenance activities, the mayor has explained.
Income for town roads in 2013 will come from the state gasoline tax, $108,000; county road and bridge fund, $10,000; vehicle registration fees, $13,000; and vehicle sales tax, $2,000.
The only other money coming into the road fund is a cash transfer from the general fund, $124,339.
Mayor Don Suppes said that he plans a survey of the town residents on the issue of funding roads. That could take place soon after the first of the year. Additional or new sources of money dedicated to the town roads are being considered.
During the town board's adoption of the 2013 budget on Dec. 13, former mayor Tom Huerkamp addressed the roads issue. He told the trustees that roads funding is the Achilles heel of town finances, and that the town is "close to becoming crippled" by it.
"Declining revenues in the general fund, and almost no revenues in the road fund," mean that the town is "facing the need to address new revenue sources. Or, you will continue to bleed the general fund. It will become a nightmare for you and the rest of us."
He said the trustees need to "take a serious look at alternative revenue streams dedicated to the road fund." Specifically, he recommended a sales and use tax dedicated to roads. The tax would be collected on things like vehicles that town residents buy and goods delivered to an Orchard City address. Those goods could include lumber and building materials, home furnishings, and major appliances.
Also, Huerkamp noted that said that in future, Internet sales may become subject to local sales tax.
The town's 2013 budget documents makes the following statements concerning road funds: "This level of revenue makes it difficult to keep up with the annual maintenance required to prolong the service life of the town's roads. The lack of sufficient capital revenue in (the road) fund makes it virtually impossible to perform the improvements that are needed each year to get the maximum life out of the town's roads."blog comments powered by Disqus