During a recent tour to see multiple county roadways and facilities, the Washington County Commissioners face a challenge familiar to many local governments — the decline in condition of locally maintained roads, driven substantially by the withdrawal of the share of transportation revenues historically distributed to local governments for these purposes. These Highway User Revenues principally include state revenue from the tax on motor fuels and vehicle registrations, and were for decades shared 30% with local governments, who do not have independent authority to raise transportation revenues.
In addition to [Washington County Public Works Director Joe] Kroboth, the commissioners were accompanied on the van tour by Washington County Administrator Greg Murray and Washington County Highway Department Director Ed Plank. Officials said the point of the tour was to let the commissioners visually inspect the two roads that could pose a danger. They also traveled on roads that have had chip-seal applications as a preventative maintenance measure and learned of drainage issues related to county roads.
“It’s much better to understand what the issues and the problems with infrastructure are if you can see them firsthand,” Kroboth said. “Oftentimes, complaints come into the county commissioners, so if I can help to provide information to the commissioners so they can answer the questions of their constituents, it’ll resolve those complaints and concerns quicker.”
In fiscal 2009, Washington County received approximately $7.6 million in Highway User Revenues. After significant reductions in fiscal 2010 that were made permanent, Washington County will receive just under $800,000 for fiscal 2013.