After almost a year of study and discussion, Howard County officials are going to implement a usage fee on county roads.
Effective Oct. 1, any commercial or agriculture entity which creates an access point utilizing county roads will be required to to purchase a $4,500 usage permit from the county. There will be no charge for pre-existing access points, officials said.
An example of an access point which would be subject to permitting is a road leading to a drilling site which intersects a county road. In addition to the fee, those creating an access point would have to build it in accordance with county specifications.
With the recent oil boom has come increased usage of and damage to county roads by commercial traffic. Commissioners have been debating some sort of fees or permits to help pay for road repairs for the better part of the year.
“It's been a topic of much debate … and we've been waiting on a decision from the (Texas) attorney general's office on whether we could go ahead with this,” Prec. 3 Commissioner Jimmie Long said. “(The AG's office) confirmed we had the right to charge a reasonable fee.”
Long said the fees would provide a useful source of revenue for the county.
“This brings in revenue to help repair those roads,” he said. “And there's other uses for the money, too.”