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Commissioner responds to money transfer issue

Sunday, October 21, 2012

To the Editor:

This letter is in response to Walt Moore's letter of Oct. 9, 2012:

I made a statement at the Chamber of Commerce/Farm Bureau political forum that we could only do so much to repave the roads in Clay County because of lack of funds.

We have funds to take care of our approximately 255 miles of gravel roads, but not sufficient funds to blacktop and chip and seal our approximately 405 miles of roads.

To blacktop a mile of county road costs approximately $70,000, and approximately $11,000-$12,000 per mile to chip and seal a road. The cost for liquid asphalt material has more than tripled since 2004.

The reason for the $50,000 transfer of funds was because during the first 10 months of this year, we had extensive repair costs of more than $168,000, which has nearly depleted the equipment repair fund.

The transfer of the $50,000 will be used to help pay for repair expenses already incurred and for additional repairs which may be needed for the remainder of 2012.

Many people do not realize that for the year 2010, the county highway department had to cut its budget by more than $467,000. For the year 2011, the highway department had to reduce its budget by more than $206,000. For a county our size, this was a tremendous amount of money which the county highway lost in two years.

For the year 2010, the entire budget for new equipment was eliminated, and for 2011, we only had a small budget for new equipment.

The money, which was lost in previous years, is simply lost and will not be recovered in future budgets. The budget had to be cut during the economic slowdown because the money was simply not available.

By having no equipment budget for the year 2010 and a greatly reduced budget for the year 2011, it is now costing us for repairs. If economic times had been better, some of the equipment which we are now repairing would have been replaced with newer equipment and we would not be having the increase in repair bills.

As was stated at the county council meeting Oct. 1, the county commissioners are working very hard to use wisely the money we have.

We are doing all we can to stretch the funds as much as possible.

Our approach has been conservative and cautious.

I hope this provides a better understanding of why we had to transfer $50,000 in our budget.

This was not new money from the county council, but was simply money within our budget which was transferred from one fund to another fund to pay for needed repairs to equipment.

Jack Withers,

Clay County Commissioner,

District 1