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Lafayette Leaders Worry Over Lost State Funds for Road, Bridge Repairs

By Alyssa Schnugg
Staff writer

The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors started the public meeting process this week to review proposed departmental budgets for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

The fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.
On Wednesday, the supervisors met with Road Department Manager Joe Bynum who presented the department’s $8 million budget.
With more roads in the county being asphalted, less money is being allocated for double bituminous surface treatment, which is rock mixed with asphalt and is much cheaper than pure asphalt. However, more asphalt also means more stripping roads, even on many of the more remote county roads.
“We are getting more calls from people that the asphalt roads are really dark at night and hard to see (the sides of the road),” Barnum explained.
Barnum has a $225,000 budget for stripping roads but suggested it might need to go up.
The road department’s budget is separated into two budgets – one for road maintenance at $4.3 million and one for bridge and culvert work at $3.6 million.
However, supervisors are concerned the $3.6 million for bridge and culverts won’t scratch the surface to replace and repair bridges in Lafayette County with fewer state funds coming in to help with costs.
“We’ve got to find money for our bridges,” said Supervisor Mike Roberts. “Most were funded through the state but with all the cuts, we can’t count on those funds.”
Roberts said the county needs to develop a plan and rank bridges by need and start replacing and/or fixing those bridges.
“I have a lot of old wooden bridges in my district and they all need to go,” he said. “I also have a lot more log trucks in my district using those bridges.”
Barnum said many of the smaller bridges in the county can be removed and replaced with culverts, which is less expensive than replacing a bridge.
Supervisor Kevin Frye suggested budgeting $125,000 in additional funds for bridge and culvert work.
“If we get state funds and don’t need the $125,000, we can use it somewhere else,” he said.
The budget did not include requests for new equipment. The department heads submit “wish lists” that are above the normal budget costs, such as equipment and vehicles. After the supervisors review the revenue projections for 2018-2019, they will review those equipment and vehicle needs to see which are needed most and add them to the departments’ budgets.
Barnum’s “big ticket” request was a new paver for $450K.
“We’re doing a whole lot more paving,” he said. “The one we have needs a lot of repairs.”
Other items included three new tractors, a knuckle boom truck and a service vehicle.
The supervisors also reviewed the budget for the coroner, Rocky Kennedy. The projected budget for the upcoming fiscal year is $218,000, up from $186,624. The increase is for a new administrative assistant to help in the office and answer calls when needed, Kennedy said. The coroner responds to more than 500 calls per year.
The budget hearings continue at 8:30 a.m. Friday at the Lafayette County Chancery Building.


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