CON: Would add new bureaucracy

Sonny Long

Aug. 5, 2012 at 3:05 a.m.

Goliad County Commissioner Ted Long strongly believes that the county's current road maintenance system does not need to be changed.

Changing to a county road department overseeing all road maintenance would have a negative impact, Long said.

"It takes away the personal contact with their commissioner that people enjoy now such as the 2 a.m. call to tell him a tree just blew down across my road as only one example," Long said. "It also adds a layer of bureaucracy between the folks that get things done and the taxpayer."

Long said the argument that consolidating the county's equipment is a money-saver is also a fallacy because items will wear out faster because of more use.

A meeting was held recently in which Robert Bass of Allison, Bass & Associates, a law firm from Austin, made a presentation on the pros and cons of the various systems to a group of residents interested in the county's road maintenance.

Long said information from that meeting reinforced his belief that changing to a unit system is not right for Goliad County. In the proposed system, a professional engineer would be in charge of all county road maintenance.

"Mr. Bass told us that the breaking point for cost savings was about 50,000 population and even then it was minimal," Long said. "I have looked at this issue several times since I first went to work for the county and always come up with this same conclusion.

Goliad has a population of about 7,200 people.

The commissioner said a change simply is not in the best interest of a small, mostly rural county.

Two of Goliad County's closest neighbors also use the precinct system of road maintenance.

In Victoria County, the county's 618 miles of roadway are maintained by each precinct's commissioner, said County Judge Don Pozzi.

Each precinct has between $350,000 and $380,000 in its road maintenance budgets.

One difference from some other counties that use the precinct system, Pozzi said, is that Victoria County's four precincts share equipment.

"We have one road crew that works in all precincts," he said. "They all share equipment and share expenses. They help each other as needed. Sharing seems to work pretty good.

"The system seems to have worked pretty well in the 10 years I've been here," Pozzi said.

DeWitt County Judge Daryl Fowler said the precinct system in place in his county is "working well" and a change is not in the works.

"It is not currently being addressed. A vote for a change to the unit road system went on the ballot within the last decade and failed," Fowler said.

DeWitt County's 690 miles of county roads are maintained with a $3.7 million budget, an increase of 43 percent over the previous year's budget.

Fowler said DeWitt County may also have to take additional steps to maintain its roads.

"Any system is going to be equipment-cost and manpower-cost intensive," Fowler said. "Because of our special needs stemming from Eagle Ford Shale exploration activity damages, we may be forced to hire outside contractors to rebuild roads after the needs have been prioritized and funded."



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