Franklin County Highway Administrator Ron Williams says taking over the roughly 60 miles of roads currently maintained by four separate special road districts in the county would cause minimal changes to current operations.
Special road districts exist near Washington, Union, New Haven and Sullivan, and all four encapsulate most, if not all, of the neighboring municipalities.
Funding for the road districts comes from real estate and personal property taxes paid by residents living in those areas, totaling more than $1 million in 2018 to maintain just 60 miles of roadways.
Last week, Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker said since the special road districts encompass municipalities those residents are suffering from double taxation.
In some cases the special road districts do not own their own equipment and do not have employees, but Union and Washington do, and have at times assisted the city of Washington on road projects.
Williams says based on current numbers the county would have no problem taking over the 60 miles of special road districts.
“My gut reaction is I don’t think we would,” Williams said. “We should be able to assimilate them into our normal routines and operations.”
Williams added a major factor to the ease of the county takeover would be the current condition of the special road district roads.
“I’m not really sure about them right now,” Williams said. “I assume most, if not all, of them are asphalt pavement.”
Once the condition of the roads are assessed, and they are in good shape, the next step for the county would be to assess side road maintenance like mowing, tree trimming and snow removal.
“Snow removal wouldn’t be bad since we travel through some of those roads to get to ours,” Williams said. “It would be fairly easy to bring them into our system. Other roads butt up to ours, or are extensions of ours.”
The county highway department is currently responsible for more than 800 miles of roads.
Williams said it has 53 employees on the roads, three supervisors and three administrators.
He added no additional equipment or personnel would be needed to take over the extra 60 miles.
According to the Franklin County treasurer’s office, of the $4.4 million in real estate and property taxes collected for the road and bridge fund in 2018, Franklin County received $2,931,365.
Municipalities in Franklin County received $470,968 and the four special road districts received shares of $1,000,385.
Williams said if the county would absorb the road districts, there would be no problem paying for the additional materials or workload, if the county would receive the $1 million currently going to the special road districts.
The total operating budget for the county highway department for 2019 is $21,770,240.