Rural property owners to pay 75 percent of the costs to improve roads
The Washington County Board of Supervisors decided how to pay for $8 million in general obligation bonds for the Secondary Roads Comprehensive Improvement Plan during the board’s weekly meeting Monday morning. Fifty percent of the cost will come from a debt service levy and 50 percent from the rural services levy. The debt service levy would be 50 cents per $1,000 valuation and the rural services levy will be 92 cents per $1,000 valuation.
Under this plan, homeowners in the county’s cities would pay 13 percent of the total cost while rural residential, rural agricultural, rural commercial and rural industrial would pay for approximately 76.4 percent. All the rural entities will also pay the debt service levy. All tax increment financial districts will pay the appropriate levies as well.
Supervisor Jim Miksch, who is a rural resident and who said he doesn’t want to pay for any more taxes than he has to said, “The case that rural residents pick up about three-fourths of the cost is not unreasonable.”
Miksch also said that city residents and city businesses need these roads, too.
Supervisor Jim Rosien said having city residents pay 13 percent of the cost is not “very palpable.”
“They just don’t understand it completely,” Rosien said. “My phone has been ringing about that. Three thousand five hundred who live in my district are in Washington, Iowa. They just don’t buy it.”
Supervisor Adam Mangold who also represents residents of the city of Washington said he has only received one negative comment. He said that people who live in town use the county’s secondary roads system. Not all of them realize that. The two examples he used were G36 and the Riverside Road.
Miksch and County Engineer David Patterson both said that rural residents are asking that the roads be improved and that they are willing to pay for the improvements.
Miksch said that he was not willing to spend the next two years of his term in office not having an answer for people who contact him with concerns about the county’s roads. He thinks the supervisors have an obligation to make a decision to do something.
Supervisor Steve Davis asked County Engineer Dave Patterson what other counties are doing about their roads.
“Everybody has eyes on Washington County,” Patterson said. “There are very few engineers, No. 1, that would have the boldness to say, ‘This is the right thing that we need to do.’ Most of them would get shot down before they could finish getting it out of their mouth. On our part, it has been a two-year educational process.”
For more, see our Sept. 13 print edition.