THE ROAD AHEAD
WONDERING WHAT THE PROPOSED $350,000 UNION COUNTY TAX OPT OUT MEANS TO YOU, YOUR POCKETBOOK AND YOUR COMMUTE? WE BREAK IT DOWN. by Julie Ann Madden Should the Union County Commissioners opt out of tax limitations this year? That is the question commissioners are asking their constituents. They are holding a series of informational meetings. Meetings at Beresford and Alcester were last week. July 6 they were in Elk Point and on July 8 they will hold the final forum at 7:30 p.m. at the North Sioux City Community Center, which is located at the fire station. At each of the meetings, Union County Public Works
Director Raymond Roggow has presented the county’s position regarding the proposed $350,000 tax opt out annually for up to 10 years. Then a commissioner or two has been present to answer questions. The commissioners plan to use these tax dollars to maintain the county’s 193.2 miles of hard surface roads, 49 miles of gravel roads, 119 bridges and many small drainage structures. For more information see the full story on page 10.
THE HIGH COST OF ROAD REPAIR
WHAT WILL THE TAX OPT OUT COST YOU?
Union County Public Works Director Raymond Roggow noted that pavement maintenance on roads vary based on their condition at the time of repair.
A road in “excellent” condition costs $809 per mile A road in “good” condition costs $1,721 per mile A road in “fair” condition costs $2,362 per mile A road in “poor” condition costs $1,655 per mile (The cost per mile for these roads drops because officials give up proper maintenance and “just try to keep it drivable.”)
Homeowners $2700 per $100,000 taxable assessed valuation per year.
Agricultural Landowners $1950 - $9900 Between $19.50 per 160 acres of low value land worth $450 an acre and $99 per 160 acres of top value land worth $2,296.94.
Only 25 percent, approximately 40 miles of Union County roads are in excellent condition, said Roggow.
WHY A TAX OPT OUT?
According to Union County Public Works Director Raymond Roggow, the need for a tax opt out is because road maintenance supplies and equipment prices have increased drastically since 2001. As prices increased, Roggow has lost the battle at maintaining the miles needed to stay on the county’s 20-year asphalt maintenance cycle. Some asphalt roads have just received a leveling course instead of both the leveling and finishing courses. In 2009, he was only able to do four miles with both courses, which is less than half of needed asphalt road maintenance per year. Roggow has also had to lower the number of miles for chipsealing and gravel resurfacing.
WHERE THE MONEY GOES Road Oil - $2.43 per gallon The high price of road oil is killing the county budget. Road oil prices increased 252.86% since 2001 from 69 cents per gallon to $2.4347 per gallon.
2009 UNION COUNTY HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT BUDGET
New Equipment 7.29% - $192,911.36 Includes machinery, auto & debt services
Wages/Benefits 31.66% $837,696.47 Includes salary, OASI, retirement, workmen’s comp & personal insurance
Snow Removal $360,000 Since January 1 None of which was budgeted. When such expenses occur, Union County Public Works Director Raymond Roggow either has to cut that much out of his road maintenance budget or seek relief from the commissioners through the county’s Contingency Fund.
Utilities/Misc. 3.48% - $92,197.86 Includes building & vehicle insurance, professional servises/fees, publishing, travel & conferences and utilities
57.56% $1,523,088.46 Includes rentals, repairs/maint., highway construction & supplies Source: Union County Public Works Director Raymond Roggow