In what was an otherwise uneventful Johnson County commissioners meeting Monday, the Eagle Point Bay Homeowners Association packed the room with its members in hopes of a resolution to road repairs it says are desperately needed.
Speaking on behalf of the association, its vice president, Armen Asaturian, read aloud a prepared statement claiming road damage in conjunction with high traffic flow and population density has put residents in danger.
“The county has allowed our roads to deteriorate to a point where public safety and welfare are endangered,” said Asaturian. “I and other residents have had a number of close calls with other cars as we try to avoid pot holes and deteriorated shoulders.”
The association requested that the county develop and adhere to a long-term maintenance program, which will ensure the safety and viability of the roads in and around Eagle Point Bay.
Commissioner Glenn Brown addressed the associations concerns saying everything that could be done was being done; yet the county faces the difficult task in maintaining 400 miles of roads, of which only 50 are asphalt. Johnson County highway engineer Steve Kelley said approximately 190 miles of the countys roads are oil and chip and the price of oil has more than doubled since he began.
“Half of the 1,000 tons of coal mix we prepared this year was used to maintain the Eagle Point Bay roads,” said Kelley. “Kelley said the original road design at Eagle Point did not allow for the increased volume of traffic, and while parts of the road is damaged, it is the same width as it was when constructed.”
While the costs of road maintenance and repairs continue to rise, the county’s budget has not, said the commissioners. The county’s budget for highway bills is paid out of revenue collected by the county’s motor-fuel tax. This year the county allocated an additional $50,000 to be used for highway bills, said commissioner Brown. Members of the association argued that property taxes have increased 50 percent and some questioned what would happen if they refused to pay in a position of a protest. The commissioners said their property would be sold at tax sales, as Johnson County does not have a measure that allows for withholding property taxes in protest. After the meeting, and not before the board, Kelley said that only seven percent of a household’s property tax makes its way into the highway budget.
“In the long run we haven’t done a lot at Eagle Point because there is not enough money county wide or state wide,” said Kelley. “But we have not done less there than anywhere else and we’ve actually been able to do more this year because of a light winter.”
In his address before the board, Asaturian said several members of the association have been in contact with Kelley and they have recently seen repair work being done on the roads.
“We appreciate the repairs presently being done on the roads,” said Asaturian. “However, we need to see long-term preventative maintenance that will keep our roads from falling into the disrepair, which we have experienced these past eight years or so.”
Several members of the association asked if there were alternatives to county funds such as grants from either state or federal funds, volunteering to help write or petition for such grants if they existed. It was not determined if any grants were available and in winding down the discussion, commissioner Brown said the county will do what it can for the association.
Following the discussion of the road repairs at Eagle Point Bay, the association members departure nearly emptied the room leaving only an introduction to two different insurance proposals left to discuss in new business. Bob Farr of Colonial Life Insurance and Ray Diel of HOPE Health Insurance spoke before the board on unrelated proposals.
The commissioners approved a Prevailing Wage Ordinance, which sets the wages of labor paid by the county for such work as landscaping, oil and chipping, carpentry, truck driving, painting and other hourly wages.
Highway bills in the amount of $42,775.01 and county bills in the amount of $53,497.19 were approved.
The next regularly scheduled county commissioners meeting is set for July 2, to begin at 3:30 p.m.