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State fund sweeps force moratorium on road maintenance

During the Dec. 5, meeting of the Mohave County Board of Supervisors, we adopted a temporary moratorium on acceptance of new public roads and streets into the Mohave County Road Maintenance System, other than those completed in accordance with subdivision plat approval.

Many of our residents may not understand why we would take this action. Well, it’s a matter of HURF dollars and sense. Our Highway User Revenue Funds are shrinking and we have the good sense to prioritize our existing county roads for continued maintenance.

One of the many things residents thank me for is that our Road Division does a good job maintaining county roads. Now and then, we get calls reporting potholes or wash outs on dirt roads. Those reports are sent to the Road Division, a Public Works employee does an inspection, and if repairs are called for, the problem is solved.

Mohave County maintains 2,065 miles of roads and streets.

We use HURF dollars to pay for road construction and maintenance, the salaries of the road workers, the trucks and heavy equipment and the facilities to house the employees and equipment. HURF is derived from a portion of gasoline taxes and vehicle license fees. No property tax dollars are used for roadwork.

In 2008, Mohave County’s share of HURF revenue totaled $12,376,451. From 2009 through Fiscal Year 2012, the state of Arizona swept close to $3.5 million of Mohave County’s HURF allocation to help balance the state’s budget. We forecast HURF revenue for FY2012 to be less than $10 million, or close to 20 percent less than we received in 2008.

We have more roads to maintain now with less money — and fewer employees — to do the job. Our Public Works Department has come up with innovative measures to continue to protect Mohave County residents’ transportation capabilities. And, although we are stretched pretty thin, the department does an excellent job and they will continue to maintain our current roads at that top-quality level. But, to ensure quality maintenance, I believe it is a good time to temporarily close the gate to accepting new liabilities.

This moratorium will give us time to take a breath and thoroughly assess our abilities to keep our roads well-maintained, with the hope that the state can find other ways to balance its budget than sweep HURF and other county funds.

— Buster Johnson is Chairman of the Mohave County Board of Supervisors.

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