Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Commissioner Joe Mashek begins busy last year

Road and bridge budget parity a key issue

Waco - Why don't county commissioners know when a contract is due for renewal? Why are road and bridge budgets skewed from high to low percentages of total revenue from precinct to precinct?

And the burning issue, how come taxpayers are forced to absorb a constant surplus of taxes collected compared to revenue spent to keep their rural roads and bridges in good shape?

The record shows that over a period of 5 years, there has been a surplus of more than $27 million left unspent for the purpose for which it was raised – that of maintaining roads and bridges.

That figure represents a hefty example of the proverbial prudent reserve, to say the least.

All these questions and more have been asked over a 15-year period by Precinct 3 Road Commissioner Joe Mashek of West. Though he has not received any answers, he keeps asking and plans a busy last year in office following his announcement earlier in the year to forego a bid for re-election as a member of the Commissioners' Court.

“My constituents are on the short end of the stick when it comes to road and bridge repairs and this is due to a shortage of funding in the Precinct 3 budget. I would like to ask that someone justify to me and my constituents why 25%, 25%, 21% and 29% is in the best interest of the community and furhter where in County policy is it written that this is set in stone and cannot and will not be changed.”

Mr. Mashek sought answers from the Attorney General's office, the Texas Association of County Attorneys and former District Attorney John Segrest.

“In each and every one of these discussions the final consensus is always the same. That is that decisions on Road and Bridge funds made 65 years ago are foolish. I think it is time we adopt a policy allwoing us to administer an equitable way to judge Road and Bridge budgets.”

According to the County Engineer's Office, the precinct with the highest total road miles is Precinct 4 with 390.110. That precinct gets 29% of the total revenue while Precinct 1 with 238.282, Precinct 2 with 211.718 and Mr. Mashek's Precinct 3, with 230.918 miles, get 25%, 25% and 21% each.

Operating budgets per mile for 2007 were widely skewed with Precinct 2 leading at $9,771, Precinct 1 at $7,860 and Precinct 4 at $7,024.

Mr. Mashek's Precinct 3 budget called for a much lower figure at $6,725 per mile. That precinct has 128.463 miles of gravel road compared to much lower mileage in the other three ranging from a low of 34.649 in Precinct 4 to 80.696 in Precinct 3.

He asked for the budgets to be adjusted to new percentages of 24, 24, 24 and 28 percent so that “...this would make a minimal loss impact on the affected precincts and long term would build the fund balance of Precinct 3.”

At that point, the Court declined to take that action, and the ratios have remained the same.

The result, according to papers filed in the Court's agenda at that time, were predictable.

No new equipment had been purchased for 3 years; there was deferment on a second coat on newly paved roads in the previous year; one employee was laid off in order to hire a mechanic to take care of the old equipment, and the Precinct 3 budget “lost $1.5 million dollars over the past 10 years due to unfair percentage.”

According to an opinion authored by former Attorney General Jim Mattox, “A commissioners court has authority to re-allocate, among the various precincts, some or all of the road and bridge funds previously appropriated to specific precincts and unexpended at the end of the fiscal year.”

Though “the commissioners court is under no general obligation to expend money in the road and bridge fund in proportion to the amount of the money collected in each precinct,” “A commissioners court...has discretion to allocate money in its road and bridge fund in a manner that takes into consideration the amount of funds previously appropriated to any one precinct, but unexpended...”

(click on image for an expanded view)


  1. what did the hell did gibson say? Ur going to have to buy an awful expensive mic system to translate it.

  2. Gibson should be issued a ONE way ticket! Any takers?