Polk County opposes state bill to have counties fund road maintenance

Published 2:11 pm Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A bill recently introduced in the N.C. Senate to transfer to counties the cost of maintaining secondary roads would require Polk to impose a 27-cent property tax increase on residents, according to Polk County commissioners.

The county board approved Monday a resolution opposing Senate Bill 758.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Bob Rucho and Senator Daniel Clodfelter of Mecklenburg County and was referred to the committee on appropriations.

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According to documents sent to Polk County, the county would be required to impose a 9.4-cent property tax increase for road maintenance and a 16.9-cent increase for paving and enhancements to maintain Polk County&squo;s 362 miles of secondary roads. Polk was sent a list of property tax increases that would be needed if the bill passes for all of North Carolina&squo;s 100 counties. According to the list, some counties, such as Gates, would need an 80 cent property tax increase. Many counties would need property tax increases comparable to Polk&squo;s in the 20-cent range.

In the 2007-2008 budget year, the state spent almost $5 million maintaining, resurfacing, paving and enhancing Polk&squo;s secondary roads.

Polk County Manager Ryan Whitson said it is his understanding that the bill under consideration would require Polk County to send money to the state for the N.C. Department of Transportation to continue its program, not for the county to create its own road maintenance department.

The state is facing a large budget shortfall. According to the N.C. Association of County Commissioners, the state is facing a $65 billion&bsp; road funding shortfall over the next 20 years.

During the 2007 legislative session, counties were given optional authority to help finance public streets, highways and bridges. The authority had not been sought by counties, and through the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners, counties adopted a goal to oppose any legislation that shifts the state&squo;s responsibility for funding transportation construction and maintenance projects to county governments.

Polk County&squo;s resolution adopted Monday says that it &dquo;adamantly&dquo; opposes Senate Bill 758 as well as any other similar legislation.

Commissioners encouraged the public to write Sen. Tom Apodaca and Rep. David Guice to let them know how much this transfer would hurt local taxpayers as well as other legislators in the state.