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Blaine County To Vote On Road Levy
Photos courtesy of Laura Speck and Nils Ribi.
Blaine County, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KSVT-TV ) This May, voters in Blaine County will be tasked with approving a road, streets and bridge levy.
The main points include road deterioration and a stagnant fuel tax.
"Transportation in and out of this valley is crucial for our economy, tourism and industry," explains Jacob Greenberg, Blaine County Commissioner.
If you look at the state of roads, they're evaluated on remaining service life, or RSL, of 1 to 20 years.
Between 10 and 13 RSL, you're looking at the most cost and safety benefits.
But 60 percent of Blaine County roads are at or below 7 RSL.
East Fork Road is one of the roads identified as a priority for road repairs.
"If we wait any longer, it will cost us more in six years than to repair them now," Greenberg points out.
County officials decided to let the cities be part of the decision-making process.
Four out of five showed their support.
"The elected officials in those cities also require funding to maintain their roads. Because of that, the assessed valuation will be $64 per 100,000 instead of 45 per 100,000. If the county did it on their own, did the levy on their own, it would be 43, 44 per 100," Greenberg says.
The county has relied on fuel tax to fund all repairs and maintenance.
That flat fuel tax has remained unchanged for 20 years, but road maintenance costs escalated.
"The Idaho Association of Counties voted a majority vote to lobby the state to increase the gas tax, but since this is an election year, nothing that smells of an increase in tax is going to be passed, and that session not over, so that hasn't happened," Greenberg explains.
A levy became one of the most viable options for addressing these infrastructure needs of the future.
The temporary levy will be funded in 2015 and ‘16.
3.5 million of the funds will be used for county projects.
Overall it's 5.2 million including the cities and the county.