HARRISBURG, AR (KAIT) – The most recent Budget Detail Report for Poinsett County shows some promising numbers, but one area is a cause of concern for some members of the community. According to Poinsett County Judge Charles Nix, the county road department has spent $331,841.51 on gravel, dirt and sand compared to only $100,000 the year before. Nix said the county is spending more on gravel for projects because wet weather made some projects impossible to complete.
"If you get a normal rain, it doesn't create much of a problem, it's if you get a heavy rain with a lot of volume, particular in areas where you've got the running water, then you get the wash outs and roads get under water, that's where a lot of our problems tend to come in," said Nix. "Basically what happened last year, it was such a wet year, I mean about the time it would dry up to the point we could start maybe trying to maintain and haul gravel and those kinds of things, we'd get another large rain and that would kind of put a halt to that."
Nix said the county received $103,278.29 from FEMA after the county was declared as a disaster area in 2009. Nix said that money has allowed the county to perform more repairs and patchwork.
"At this time of the year for county budgets, if you're going to have a cash crunch, it usually comes at this time of the year, July and August, and then of course September your tax collections begin to pick up again," said Nix. "Our road department budget last year overall was about $1.75 million. We had about $175,000 in gravel. I'm going to say that expenditure last year, we only spent maybe 60 percent of that."
"This year our overall budget is about $1.83 million. Our gravel budget basically we left the same but we spent about $330,000 already this year," said Nix.
Nix said the county has hired independent haulers to help get more gravel to certain locations. Road Foreman Tommy Freeman said the county has approximately 1,200 miles of gravel road.
"Overall we've hired more labor. We've had more trucks running. We've purchased more gravel on the outside, everything we could do to just get more gravel on the road," said Nix.
Nix said the county will have to watch the budget for the road department in 2011. He said several pieces of equipment will have to be replaced.
"We purchased a used grader with a three year bumper to bumper warranty, next year though we'll probably have to go back and get higher in our equipment budget because we may have to purchase a couple of graders to replace two that are going out of warranty," said Nix.
Nix also said the county is looking at changing the type of gravel used on roads to increase durability.
"You have to blend it and mix it and try to be in tune with what you're getting your mixture so that when you put it on the road, you're getting a mixture that holds up better," said Nix.