Douglas County has no long-term debt hanging over its head as it enters 2014, which is “something that few counties are able to say, especially metro Atlanta counties,” said District 3 Douglas County Commissioner Mike Mulcare.
“The Blake Gammill Building is officially retired at the end of this year,” he said, in reference to the county fire department headquarters.
The commissioner said the county’s 2014 general fund budget was set at $88,215,599 and will not require a millage rate increase to fund it.
Mulcare said a significant feature of the new budget was the adoption of his amendment to move $1 million from reserves to the Capital Transportation Fund.
“This additional money will allow us to begin to address the deteriorating condition of our roads, some of which have never been repaved,” he said.
“It takes about $100,000 to repave a mile of roadway,” Mulcare said.
Even so, he said, there are many short segment roads, particularly in subdivisions, which now can be resurfaced.
Mulcare said he believes this additional funding should allow the county to double its repaving schedule next year.
“Again, I am very pleased the roads budget amendment was adopted by the board,” Mulcare said.
His amendment passed by a 4-1 vote with Commissioner Ann Jones Guider casting the lone “no” vote.
Mulcare also believes the Capital Transportation Fund needs to be increased not only in the 2014 budget but on a permanent basis to catch up with the overall road maintenance needs.
“We have 140 miles of roads that need to be repaved with some having not been repaved in more than 40 years,” he said.
“We are falling behind with each year that passes, adding to the miles of financial burden for future citizens as the actual cost for paving grows and as neglect adds to the per-mile cost,” Mulcare said.
He said sidewalks near some schools, but not necessarily all Douglas County schools, have been identified as being critical to child safety and welfare needs. Sidewalks are included in the transportation portion of the budget.
Mulcare said he also believes the county’s Capital Transportation Fund needs augmenting to improve transportation mobility because thousands commute from Douglas County to work each day.
“We should anticipate further costs being driven down to counties by the state and federal governments,” he said.
This was one of the core ideas of the failed T-SPLOST, Mulcare said of the transportation special purpose local option sales tax which voters did not approve in 2012.
“The idea of funding and managing transportation needs locally and regionally is, and will be, the centerpiece of transportation planning,” he said.
Mulcare said he also believes counties that have a comprehensive plan, like that of Douglas County, will have an advantage over counties that do not.
“Counties that are prepared with matching funds will have an advantage and we must,” he said.
“Money is needed to get our roads on a reasonably managed maintenance program and to position us for significant mobility enhanced projects.”