By CARL SMITH
For the third time this year, District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer said the county should look for road maintenance funding through outside bonds.
During Tuesday’s board of supervisors meeting, Trainer said the county should consider borrowing approximately $3 million in order to accomplish more of its four-year road plan now before increasing price fluctuations associated with materials and gasoline drive the price higher. A work session, he proposed, could be held following the county’s upcoming budgetary process to determine project interest.
Earlier this year, Trainer sought two bond-intent notices — one for $9.5 million and another for $5.7 million, respectively — but the board voted down both motions. Previously, the board’s senior supervisor also said a potential OCH Regional Medical Center sale would allow the county to roll debt off the books which in turn could be used to help fund road projects, but Trainer never outlined a definitive plan.
“Since I’ve been on the board, we get less and less done because costs are going higher and higher,” Trainer said during Tuesday’s meeting.
The board took no official action on Trainer’s suggestion, and only District 5 Supervisor Joe Williams said he was open to a work session.
“I think (securing extra funding for road construction and maintenance issues) is absolutely critical, especially considering the time element. We can’t control the costs of increasing products and services. The time value of money is what we’re up against. We know a dollar today won’t have the same purchasing power next year or 10 years down the line.” Trainer said following Tuesday’s meeting. “It would be cheaper to do a project now than 15 years from now. We need to maximize the here and now with our borrowing authority.”
While discussing the bond’s need at the Tuesday meeting, Trainer said the county could roll additional debt-servicing millage onto the next fiscal year; however, after the meeting, he said the county could be creative in servicing the debt so it would not affect the tax base. In previous bond intent-noticing attempts, Trainer also said the county could look within its means to service any additional debt for road projects.
“We can be creative with what we do, and you’ll see that in our final budget. It’ll present no millage increases, even though costs are increasing. We’re doing what we can with what we have,” Trainer said. “(If a bond calls for a millage impact) … I think the citizens would embrace some tax increase within reason, and if you’re talking $10-20 (per year), that wouldn’t be unreasonable. Look at (a previous bond approval for OCH Regional Medical Center) — the people of Oktibbeha County are open minded for improvement projects whether they cost or do not. I think people understand that when we supervisors talk about (improving infrastructure), it’s the water that makes all the boats rise.”
In March, Oktibbeha County Road Manager Victor Collins unveiled the county’s $10.08 million comprehensive four-year road plan. According to the road plan, the county will reclaim 23.6 miles for $1.8 million, build 23.6 miles for $7.92 million and pave 19.75 miles for $987,000. In January, Trainer said the county’s previous road plan was delayed due to money and weather issues.
Prior to the board’s approval of a four-year road plan, Trainer identified several areas within his district he said needed maintenance attention. Trainer said improvements to areas including Pat Station Road and the Osborn community would facilitate economic and residential growth in the county. By marketing the community as an attractive place to live, he said the tax base would increase along with funding for county services.
“We’re growing very quickly in Oktibbeha County. The way you increase quality of life is through infrastructure and education,” he said in January. “These road projects would help our communities across the board.”