Your tax dollars at work: How Boone County uses road funds

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BOONE COUNTY – On August 8, Boone County voters will head to the polls to decide whether to continue funding the county's Public Works and Resource Management departments at its current rates.

In May, the Boone County Commission approved a ballot measure to extend the current half-cent road and bridge sales tax for another decade. The tax is currently scheduled to expire after 2018.

"We're hopeful this tax will continue. Without it, we'll have some serious problems," Boone County Presiding Commissioner Dan Atwill said.

Sales tax revenue accounts for about $14 million out of an $18.8 million Road and Bridge Fund.

The fund contributed $3.1 million to local municipalities and the Centralia Special Road District and $400,000 went to reimburse the General Fund for administrative support services, according to the 2017 county budget.

The remaining $15.3 million went to the Public Works and Resource Management department to maintain and rebuild roads, bridges and other county infrastructure.

"The county has made good use of these funds and will continue to do so," Atwill said.

Where the money goes

The county's Public Works Department spends about $8 million each year maintaining the county's nearly 800 miles of road. 

Of that $8 million, the department spends more than $900,000 on rock to maintain the nearly 470 miles of gravel road in Boone County.

The other money goes to mostly preventative maintenance, which extends the lives of the county's paved roads.

"If you actually do preventative maintenance over a life cycle of a pavement, it will actually save tax dollars by extending the life of the pavement," Boone County Public Works Director Greg Edington said.

Atwill said it costs about $300,000 per mile of paved asphalt.

"We have to be very careful with the expenditures of funds that we have and try to be careful in allocating the monies to the right things," he said.

The remaining funds go to the county's Resource Management Department, which builds new roads and rebuilds bridges and other infrastructure.

"It's a constant struggle to keep the roads in shape," Atwill said.

He said if the upcoming ballot measure fails, the county would likely have to raise property taxes to offset the losses, though it would likely not be enough to make up the difference.