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Road woes top county agenda

May 12, 2012

County road maintenance will likely be the topic of choice Monday when the Howard County commissioners meet, as the court is expected to look at different ways to pay for some much needed repairs to its roadways.

The court is expected to discuss — and possibly take action on — road use agreements during the meeting, according to County Judge Mark Barr, as the county looks to address a growing problem with its county roads.

“We're going to look at several different road use agreements that are being used by other area counties to help pay for road maintenance,” Barr said. “I'm not sure that we'll take action on these just yet, but we definitely want to get the discussion started and begin looking at different ways we can address this problem.”

According to Barr, the boom in the oilfield is taking a heavy toll on many of the county's roadways.

“This certainly constitutes abnormal use,” Barr said. “The increased traffic on these county roads is taking a very heavy toll and simple property taxes aren't even going to come close to paying for the necessary repairs. We have to look at a way to pay for the maintenance of these roads.”

Barr said the current cost to simply fill a one-mile stretch of road is estimated at $22,000, driving the price tag of the ongoing damage caused by large trucks and tractor-trailers well into the millions of dollars.

“One of the agreements we'll be looking at is set when the individual oil company gets a permit to drill in the county,” Barr said. “We haven't looked yet at how much that charge would be, however. We're hoping Monday's meeting will help us gather input from everyone involved, especially the oil companies. This will give the commissioners something to look at and a direction to go in.”

Also during Monday's meeting, commissioners are expected to sign a resolution calling for the state of Texas to step in and assist counties with the high costs of road maintenance associated with the boom in the oilfield.

“I recently met with the West Texas County Judge and Commissioners Association, and this is a resolution many of the counties are adopting and sending to Austin,” Barr said. “The hope is they will pass some sort of legislation to help to help the counties with these costs associated with road maintenance. This isn't just a problem here in Howard County. It's a problem all across the state.”

Also during the meeting, the court is expected to consider approval for Justice of the Peace Kathryn Wiseman to do septic inspection in the surrounding counties, resolutions concerning the mental health of patients in custody and several items dealing with real estate.

County Auditor Jackie Olson will present commissioners with invoices, purchase requests, budget amendments, as well as present her office's monthly financial report. Olson is also expected to discuss consideration and possible action on the air conditioning system at the County Library.

County Treasurer Teresa Thomas is expected to meet with the court regarding personnel considerations, payroll report and issues regarding the county's dental coverage for retirees, while County Clerk Donna Wright will present her department's monthly report.

The meeting will get under way at 10 a.m. in the commissioners courtroom, located on the third floor of the county courthouse. For more information, contact the county judge's office at 432-264-2202.

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