Hopkins County Commissioners Court Monday morning took steps to free up an additional $1,564,000 in funding for road improvements this summer.
The court first approved a resolution declaring an emergency in Hopkins County due to recent weather which impacted county roads.
The Commissioners Court, cited Local Government Code §111.070(b), for allowing them to “authorize an emergency expenditure as an amendment to the original budget in the case of grave public necessity to meet an unusual and unforeseen condition that could not have been included in the original budget through the use of reasonably diligent thought and attention.”
The resolution identifies “recent rain, flooding and winds” for “immeasurably negatively” impacting county roads. “Due to extenuating circumstances the Hopkins County Commissioners Court is authorizing an emergency expenditure as an amendment to the original budget,” according to the emergency resolution.
County Judge Robert Newsom proposed allocating $250,000 more per precinct from the general fund so that precinct road crews can begin working on roads earlier this year, weather permitting.
Making the adjustments now instead of later in the year will be helpful in that it will allow materials for each precinct to be obtained in readiness for any good weather days, instead of having to wait until later in the year or closer to summer, Precinct 1 Commissioner Mickey Barker noted.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Wade Bartley said he is thankful the county is in a healthy enough financial condition due to increases in property values which have generated additional revenues to be able to designate additional funding for road improvements.
Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Price asked if the designation could allow for purchase of road equipment if needed also.
Newsom noted the declaration would allow funding for construction and maintenance of county roads, which could include needed equipment.
Auditor Shannah Aulsbrook affirmed the funding would go to each precinct road and bridge budget and could be used for allowable expenses in that fund.
Mack Pitts, a community member, asked if the funding would come from the existing budget and not require additional taxes.
Aulsbrook affirmed the money would come from the general fund and go directly to the road and bridge fund.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Greg Anglin said he hopes during good weather this summer to have two road crews working, which would allow him to cover more miles of road.
Anglin asked to be allowed to use some off that designated funding to purchase another reclaimer for Precinct 2. The equipment would be used and purchased through the county’s membership in Sourcewell. Because the group is a purchasing cooperative similar to BuyBoard, the county would not be required to go out for bids on the project. Anglin said the model he’s looking to purchase is about 3 years old and in good shape.
Barker noted that the Texas Association of Counties has been guiding county governments to purchase equipment instead of leasing it.
This would also make available additional equipment should the reclaimer already in operation experience mechanical issues, Anglin noted.
The Commissioners Court gave unanimous approval for the reclaimer purchase for Precinct 2 through Sourcewell.
Budget Amendment, Line Item Transfer
The Commissioners Court agreed to amending the budget to reflect the $1 million adjustment from the general fund, with $250,000 going into an emergency road building line within each precinct’s budget for maintenance of equipment or related expenses for road work
An additional $564,000 budget adjustment was also recommended by Aulsbrook. She explained that was the total remaining in road and bridge funding from the previous year. Those funds at the end of the year had to go back into the general fund. A transfer within the budget would allow each precinct official to access the funds remaining from his precint.
That’d be $126,000 for Precinct 1, $129,000 in Precinct 2, $87,000 for Precinct 3 and $222,000 for Precinct 4. The court approved a line item within the budget to carry those funds over to this year’s road and bridge funds for the four precincts.
The funding will help, but even those funds will only go so far. Currently, the cost to repair 1 mile of road is $120,00, according to Newsom.
Barker compared the season for road work to hay season. Crews have a limited amount of good weather days but would do the most work possible within that time with the available resources.
Newsom offered appreciation to the sheriff for providing additional labor for precinct crews through the trustees work program at the county jail.