Roads boss reviewing budget

Friday, January 14, 2011
Marshall County Roads Superintendent Jerry Williams says 50 tons of salt were used several weeks ago during the first snow to threaten motorists this winter

Marshall County's Roads Department is out of road salt and several weeks may pass before more is delivered, according to the superintendent.

"They've got a big, long waiting list," Roads Superintendent Jerry Williams said before driving through the south end of the county to inspect highways and back roads.

"Salt comes in by barge in Nashville," Williams told county commissioners on the Road Committee, meeting Monday to approve the renewed county road list.

Fifty tons of salt were used several weeks ago during the first snow to threaten motorists this winter, he said.

"We've used more salt this year than any other year," Williams said of fiscal years, July 1-June 30, since he was elected 8-1/2 years ago.

Last year, nine inches of snow fell on Marshall County, but it melted quickly. Up to eight inches was the official measurement this week, although there were individuals who reported up to 10 inches here.

Back roads with only an oil and chip pavement have a surface that's too thin and not smooth enough for plowing, he said. Even salt will damage those roads, so Williams raised the subject of asphalt purchasing during wide-ranging discussions Monday as he also inspected roads from behind the wheel of his Ford Crown Victoria.

"We've used all our asphalt money for patching and putting in tile" at drainage ways, he said.

County commissioners, in consultation with the superintendent, reduced spending on asphalt when the 2010-11 county budget was assembled last summer and fall.

Other parts of the budget were reorganized, Williams said, acknowledging money remained in the budget for fuel, and that he "took $100,000 from construction and put it in asphalt."

County highway departments have two big sources of revenue. One is the county budget and that's from a slice of the property tax rate dedicated to roads. The other source is money from the fuel taxes collected by the state.

Here, department resources were marshaled with some borrowed money. There's been a $1 million loan for asphalt, but that's been postponed.

"We decided that the economy was bad and we decided to skip it this year," Williams said.

"Now, we've got to do something to keep the roads safe," he said. "I've put it off as long as I can."

The highway superintendent is planning a more detailed presentation for county commissioners.