BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
The Greene County Road Committee on Monday discussed the anticipated impact of the Greene County Commission's decision to move $240,000 from the Highway Fund's property tax allocation to the County General Fund.
Most county departments operate from the General Fund, which faced an anticipated deficit of more than $2 million at the start of the budget process.
As a result of the shift in funds, Road Superintendent David Weems said he will likely take the funding reduction from asphalt plant operations, with the result that five or six miles less road will be paved in the 2013-2014 budget year.
"Out of the eight people on the Road Committee, five of you voted to move our money," he said. "I was upset, but now I'm over it. It's gone."
Commissioner Robin Quillen, one of the three commissioners who voted against the budget, said that she is still upset. She said that she believes too much funding goes to the Sheriff's Department and for jail operations.
"It's not [Sheriff Steve Burns'] place to balance the [county] budget," she said of the commission's long-standing use of prisoner boarding revenues to help balance the General Fund.
"It's his place to put that money to pay off the workhouse. The county shouldn't be run that way."
Chairman M.C. Rollins and Commissioner Hilton Seay, both also members of the Budget & Finance Committee and among those who voted for the budget, objected.
They noted the reliance on prisoner boarding revenues to avoid a tax increase, the difficulties they faced with the budget this year, and the extra revenue that went into the Highway Fund in the 2012-2013 budget year.
"We were in a bind," Seay said to Weems. "[The reallocation of the property taxes from Highway to General Fund] didn't put you any lower, any less, than you turned in the year before."
Weems asked what he should tell residents who call to complain about their road, now that he will pave fewer roads this year than he had originally planned.
"Tell them about your priority list," Seay replied. "Tell them some of your money was cut and they're not on the top priority."
Among the roads needing paving, Weems said, are Morgan Road and Fairview Road.
Quillen said that she lives off Fairview Road, and that the worst portion is beyond her home, on the far end near Snapps Ferry.
As for Morgan Road, Weems said crews just completed bridge repairs and plan to pave, if property-owners agree to the needed widening of the roadway by two or three feet to accommodate school buses.
This, he said, will only move their ditch line back by 1 to 1.5 feet on each side.
"It's rough through there on the far end," Seay commented.
"It's bad," Weems agreed.
At Seay's request, Weems also reviewed his equipment needs, including backhoes and graders.
The road superintendent also noted that the county has seven or eight Chevrolet dump trucks, which the company no longer makes.
Parts for this equipment will soon become difficult to locate, he said.
At the close of the meeting, the committee re-elected Rollins as chairman and Seay as vice-chairman.