The Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, acting on a request from the county council, lowered the tax rate that generates money for bridge repairs, despite concerns there will be less money available for maintenance projects.
The board voted 2-1 on Tuesday to reduce the cumulative bridge fund rate to 4 cents per $100 of assessed valuation from 10 cents. The rate, which is re-established every year, is paid by county property owners to fund bridge construction, repair, maintenance and inspection.
The council says lowering the rate would free up money in the $13.1 million general fund.
“I personally think this is the wrong approach to budgeting. We have too many bridges that need repaired, but that’s my opinion,” said commission president John Frey, who cast the opposing vote.
After the council made a similar request last year ahead of selling bonds to finance the now-completed C.R. 100W bridge project, county engineer Jim Peck presented figures that showed lowering the rate by even 3 cents would leave his long-range maintenance plan nearly $5 million short in a decade.
Peck’s plan called for spending $14 million on bridge projects over the next 10 years. Crews recently completed work on the C.R. 500N bridge near Darlington and were scheduled Tuesday evening to begin pouring the deck on Jim Davis Bridge along C.R. 600W.
In other business, commissioners accepted a $3 million state grant to address long-running drainage problems in Mace and extend water to the site of the future Tempur Sealy plant.
Under the terms of the grant, the county has 18 months to complete the work and must commit at least $10.5 million to co-fund the projects. That money can be generated through a state revolving fund loan or the supplemental drinking water, wastewater assistance or water infrastructure assistance programs.
Separately, commissioners authorized seeking bids for improvements to Comfort Drive at the Tempur Sealy site. The project includes work on at least 1 1/2 miles of roadway between Nucor Road and C.R. 250E and installing a sanitary sewer lift station.
The bid is set to be awarded in November.