By Gary Nelson
Senior staff writer
Cumberland County Highway Superintendent Scott Blaylock will attend Tuesday's county budget committee meeting to give a presentation to county commissioners in an effort to gain financial support from the county.
"Most people don't realize that we don't get any funding from the county. Our funding comes from the state through the gasoline tax," Blaylock said.
Blaylock said the state has not increased the county's portion of tax rate on the gasoline tax since 1989 and the costs of the materials have skyrocketed just since 2002.
"We're being funded at the same rate as we were in 1989. We can't keep going being funded by a fuel tax only. We need a permanent funding solution," Blaylock said.
Although the rate remains the same, the revenue amount the county receives depends upon the sale of gasoline.
According to the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) 21.4 cents per gallon of gasoline yields roughly $665.7 million.
7.9 cents, or $245.5 million, of that goes to cities and counties and is divided between the counties and cities for road maintenance; .7 cents, or $22 million, goes to the state's general fund; and approximately 12.8 cents, or $398 million goes to TDOT.
Blaylock said four of the county road departments surrounding Cumberland do receive funds from the county. Those county road departments that receive funding are Morgan, Overton, Roane and Putnam.
"There are 67 out of 95 county road departments in the state that receive funds from the county," Blaylock said.
Blaylock said there is approximately 1,079 miles of roads in the county among the 1,800 roads.
"The roads belong to the county. I'm just elected here to maintain them. We just can't keep going being funded by the fuel tax only," Blaylock said.
Currently it costs about $33,000 to to tar and chip one mile of road, according to Blaylock.
Blaylock said that the cost of hot mix asphalt in 2002 was $22 per ton — in 2012 it was $79 per ton. Oil has gone from 56 cents per gallon in 2002 up to $2.33 per gallon in 2012. The cost of rock has gone from $4 per ton in 2002 up to $9 per ton in 2012.
Blaylock said he has a plan to pave and resurface three roads per year in each civil district of the county.
"It would be up to the commissioners to let me know what three roads they would like paved in their district. They could find out through their constituents and let me know. That way each district would be receiving repairs to the roads they want fixed," Blaylock said.
In order to go through with that plan, Blaylock said it would require approximately $600,000 of funding each year from the county.
"I don't know where they would come up with the money from. Property tax, a wheel tax, I don't know. It's up to them to come up with the funding," Blaylock said. "I'm going to be telling them what we need to keep up these roads."
Blaylock said the county roads affect a lot of departments and areas in the county.
"All your emergency responders rely heavily on the condition of the roads. The roads affect a lot of areas. It affects the real estate and property values," Blaylock said.
Blaylock said he would like input and support from the public.
"We need support for this. I've talked to a lot of the county commissioners one-on-one and most of them believe we need some help from the county. I'd like the public to contact their commissioners and let them know we need help from the county. I want the public to know that my door is always open and I am willing to do what I can do," Blaylock said.
Blaylock also invited anyone to come see him at the Cumberland County Highway Department at 178 County Garage Rd. if they have any questions, or would like to see the facility. For more information, call the county road department at 484-5424. The hours of operation are Monday through Thursday 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Blaylock will make his presentation to the Cumberland County Budget Committee Tuesday, April 2, during its monthly meeting. The meeting is at 4:30 p.m. in the small court room on the third floor of the Cumberland County Courthouse. There will be other items on the agenda for the meeting.
The public is welcome to attend.