County road funding likely will be slashed

By Argen Duncan: PNT senior staff writer

Roosevelt County is facing state funding cuts that will limited it to repairing about half as many road surfaces as in past years.

The issue came before the Roosevelt County Commissioners at their meeting Tuesday.

In the 2008-2009 fiscal year, the county received about $432,000 from three Local Government Road Fund programs. This year, the county is expecting to receive about $258,000 if both rounds of cuts are approved.

County Manager Charlene Hardin said the allotment the county received from the state’s Local Government Road Fund was 20 percent less this fiscal year than last year.

Then in December, the county received a letter from the state Department of Transportation saying all three programs providing money to the Local Government Road Fund were facing additional cuts due to state revenue shortfalls.

New cuts will be submitted to the DOT commission during their Jan. 17 meeting, according to the letter.

Hardin said she expects the reductions will be approved.

“That roughly determines that we’re going to do half the roads we did in ‘08-’09 in ‘09-‘10,” Road Department Supervisor Ricky Lovato said during the meeting.

The county uses the money for such things as laying caliche and chip sealing roads.

The reductions apply until the next fiscal year, which begins in July.

“We’ll reapply and see what happens,” Hardin said.

In other business, commissioners:

• Approved a resolution asking the Legislature to keep the “hold-harmless provision.” The provision allows the state to provide counties money to make up for the loss of revenue from the 2003 repeal of the tax on food and medical services. Hardin said the possible removal of the provision was “on the radar screen” for the upcoming legislative session, and the county would lose about $254,000.

The state would gain at total of $112 million to $200 million if it removed the hold-harmless provision, Hardin said.

• Tabled a request for funding a sheriff’s office computer crimes investigator.

• Approved two grant agreements of about $64,000 and $4,200 for a new arena at the Roosevelt County Fairgrounds. The state had frozen that capital outlay money, but has since released it.