Angelina County leaders share concerns about state road money distribution

By Morgan Thomas - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – If the weather's good, there's county road work that needs to be done.

"On this stretch of road we're clearing ditches. Getting the culverts to open up and move the water when it comes through," said Angelina County Commissioner Rick Harrison, Pct. 1.

Harrison says county roads are a big part of a commissioner's job.

"There's a lot to do out here. Precinct one has right at 200 miles of county roads," said Harrison.

The equipment, material and personnel are paid for by each precinct's road and bridge fund. This year, Harrison has a little over a million to work with - about twenty-four thousand of it is in danger. That's because state lawmakers are looking at eliminating the distribution of two types of road funds for two straight years.

"The lateral road monies I believe comes from state fuel tax and is distributed to the counties," said Eddie Gray, County Auditor.

"Overweight permit on the trucks - they pay a permit to the state for the big trucks and we get a portion of that money," said Harrison.

Gray says we stand to lose about $90 grand each year.

"It goes exclusively to the road and bridge fund. It's not for the operation of the county," said Gray.

Commissioners say it's a struggle taking care of all the pot holes, base failures, and other road issues with their current budget... especially with gas prices on the rise.

"Any kind of petroleum-based product to a county commissioner going up is a problem - from the fuel to the oils to the grease," said Harrison.

The cost of county road maintenance is going anywhere but down. The loss of these funds could mean postponing projects indefinitely. It's either cutting back to the basics or what every tax-payer fears.

"...make up the difference in property taxes which is our only other source of revenue that we control," said Gray.

However, county leaders say they won't be supporting that decision anytime soon.

©2011 KTRE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.