In order to generate funding for county and local roads, the Marshall County Commissioners are recommending the county council enact a Local Option Highway User Tax (LOHUT). A LOHUT contains a vehicle excise tax and a wheel tax.
Supervisor of County Highways Jason Peters said the county now operates with $850,000 for road projects. With the addition of state relinquishment funds of $350,000, the county will have $1.2 million to chip and seal 13.5 miles of road and to pave five miles of road this year. The $1.2 million figure also includes dust control and the acquisition of materials.
If the county enacts the LOHUT, Peters said his department could accomplish a lot more with the addition of $850,000 from the tax, which is double what the county has to operate with now.
“We could do 25 more miles of chip and seal and 10 more miles of paving with millings,” said Peters. “That would still leave us roughly $100,000 to do miscellaneous work with that money also.”
Peters said the highway department is using the new asphalt zipper and pug mill to save the county money.
“With the pug mill, we ran close to 1,000 tons of millings and that was roughly $22.80 a ton which came to about $22,800. For cold patch, that would have been $64,000. With our hot mix, if we would have used 1,000 ton of that at $54, that would have been right around $54,000. Just by running the two things, we’ve saved almost $31,000.”
The revenue coming into the highway budget has flatlined from the state, and expenses keep climbing.
A lot of the issues have been caused due to a sub-par foundation when the roads were constructed back in the early 1930s. Increased heavy traffic over the years quickened the deterioration rate of the roads. Additionally, two bad winters with frost line issues have contributed to the poor road conditions. When the frost line thaws, the roads become soft and leads to deterioration of the roads.
Two residents spoke out against the implementation of a LOHUT and asked the county officials to to exhaust all other means of funding sources before agreeing to a new tax.
The commissioners unanimously approved a recommendation to implement the tax. The county council will discuss it when they meet on Monday, May 11 at 9 a.m. ET in the second-floor meeting room in the Marshall County Building in Plymouth.