Pct. 2 Commissioner Bill Dodson continued his road repair funding presentation at the Commissioners Court meeting Monday night.
Dodson took his fellow commissioners a similar presentation to what he presented at a town hall meeting in Ennis last week.
“In 2000, we had fairly good county roads in Ellis County. Now they are much worse,” Dodson said, saying the problem is common for all four precincts.
Citing the tax roll back in 2001, an inflation rate of 172.8 percent, heavy truck traffic, increased population and budget dollars based on dollars – not road miles – have contributed to the conditions of many of the county’s roads.
“I’m looking for a better way to budget our needs,” Dodson said.
During his presentation, he described the rationale of grinding deteriorating finished roads and turning them into gravel roads. He also discussed the chip and seal process and the cost of single vs. double layers – and the expected lifetime of each.
“We need to identify our needs and a way to appropriate funds to meet those needs,” he said.
Several residents were on hand to voice their opinions.
“You guys act like there’s five different counties,” Roy Calendar said. “This is one county and we need to work together.”
Calendar went on to question Dodson, saying only a limited amount of roadwork has been done and asking where the budgeted monies were spent.
Mike Farmer questioned Dodson on why a specific, finished road was turned back into a gravel one.
“You took Ellis County back 30 years turning that road back to gravel,” Farmer said.
Dodson answered that the road was in need of repairs – and returning it to a gravel road is temporary.
“We ground up several roads early so they would be ready to repave during the limited time during the year we have,” Dodson said, with Pct. 3 Commissioner Heath Sims noting there are only about five months out of the year they can do road paving.
Brenda Beauchamp asked whether road repairs and paving could be placed out for private bids. She also proposed budget cuts in other areas if necessary to provide the required road funds.
During the discussion, the budget carryover was brought up, with County Judge Chad Adams explaining how the process works and how it is important the commissioners have these funds to carry from one fiscal year to another.
“We have precincts that have all different types of roads and different needs,” Sims said. “We have five months to work. We can generally do one to two miles a day.”
After other speakers spoke on specific problems with the roads they regularly travel, Dodson presented a proposal for a road workshop.
Commissioners approved Dodson’s request to set a date for a workshop to discuss the 2008-2009 budget and the division of funds.
“You know this is a discussion that is appreciated,” Adams told the audience. “It helps us to justify our budget. In the next budget year, there needs to be more dollars allocated to roads.”
In a related discussion, county engineer Joe White asked the commissioners to approve an evaluation criteria system, which would rank roads identified as damaged by March 2007 floods.
White said nine projects are eligible for federal funds for the repairs, with a little more than $500,000 allocated toward the projects.
“We now have to decide the right roads and how we are going to fix them,” White said, citing criteria that include traffic interruptions, detour time, impact of infrastructure and impact of other projects.
Commissioners gave White the go-ahead to proceed.