|PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (July 15, 2010) — Following years of frustration with conditions on his road, Devil’s Elbow resident Gerald Dake came to the Pulaski County Commission on Thursday to protest in person to Eastern District Commissioner Bill Farnham.
Dake, who lives on the 22000 grid of Teak Lane, said members of the county commission years ago promised that if he paid to asphalt his road, the county would maintain it. That hasn’t happened, Dake said, and the problems have actually gotten worse with potholes expanding due to lack of routine repairs.
“The holes, when they were small, Mr. Farnham, is when I called you. Now they are the size of dump truck wheels,” Dake said. “When I called you a year and a half ago, the holes were small then and they could be easily repaired.”
That’s not the only problem. Dake said shortly before the Independence Day weekend, county road crews used a “big Tonka toy” to lay down dirt rather than fix the potholes.
“I know it is cheaper and quicker to fill the holes with dirt than it is with asphalt,” Dake said. “All that dust was just boiling over the July 4 weekend … All that weekend I had to sit there and eat the dirt.”
Farnham agreed that Dake’s road needs repair, but said there’s not much he can do.
“I know the shape it’s in; it’s in horrible shape,” Farnham said. “I have already overspent on asphalt and gravel for the year.”
County road revenues are based on the county property tax which won’t be paid until assessments are sent out in late fall.
“We’ve grown so much on this side, but unfortunately, our money has not grown with it. Unfortunately, I have no money for asphalt or for gravel so I have to skate until the property tax money comes in at the end of the year,” Farnham said.
Presiding Commissioner Don McCulloch interjected, noting that unlike the eastern and western district commissioners he has no responsibility for roads in his role as presiding commissioner but is in charge of financial matters and the courthouse.
“This whole county had $110,000 for asphalt. That’s not your fault, but these two have $110,000 for the whole county,” McCulloch said.
Western District Commissioner Ricky Zweerink clarified that’s $55,000 per district, not $110,000 for each of the two commissioners to spend on their roads.
“So are you saying we can’t do anything until the first of the year?” Dake asked. “I’m not trying to be an idiot, but they did it on the Fourth of July weekend when everybody and his brother had to go down to the river and take a swim … If I hadn’t paid money to keep the dust down, I wouldn’t have had a gripe, but I paid money.”
Zweerink said that’s probably correct, and it might be longer since the county doesn’t have adequate funds to repair hard-surfaced roads. McCulloch noted that he’s now encouraging developers not to build hard-surfaced roads since the county can’t afford to maintain or repair them.
“Here’s the big problem: you put in that road probably 15 years ago. The asphalt now is $1,000 a load; back then it was probably $200,” Zweerink said.
Dake, who owns a dirt and gravel hauling business, said he realizes the county has limited funds.
“I understand about budget, but I’ve noticed that some of the other roads in this area get asphalted regularly,” Dake said.
Farnham said some of the roads which are regularly asphalted are in special road districts that have their own funds to pay for maintenance, but even those roads don’t get maintained as often as they should because of escalating asphalt and fuel costs.
The problem is compounded by poor road construction practices that have been common in Pulaski County, Farnham said.
“The original that was put down there was probably not put down properly. Most of the chip-and-seal stuff that was put down there was not put down properly,” Farnham said, noting that he no longer will accept chip-and-seal roads into the county road system and uses only
That makes sense, Dake said.
“I had my suspicions at the time, but it was not for me to say,” Dake said. “I’m not here to tell you how to do your job, but I do know asphalt.”
Dake asked if it’s possible to spray oil on the roads to keep down the dust if the county can’t afford to repair the road. Farnham said the county doesn’t have any sprayer trucks and isn’t able to do that.
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