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Vote Of The People Coming On Sweeping Cullman Road Repair Plan
Mayors, Commissioners, and Legislators representing the citizens of Cullman County took a historic first step just after noon today.
Gathered at TP Country Club for the regular meeting of the Cullman County Mayor/Commissioner Association, elected officials closely reviewed and debated a proactive, landmark proposal for funding more aggressive, extensive, and timely upgrades to the county’s rapidly decaying street and road systems.
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THE FACTS about Cullman County Roads
1973 = The year the State of Alabama turned ownership and maintenance of all county roads over to the Cullman County Commission. They truly became ‘county roads’ in that year. Before that, they were state-owned roads.
1973 = The year the Cullman County Commission (and thus all the citizens of Cullman County) had to start self-generating enough money to fix, repair, maintain and pave all those ‘new’ roads, and take full responsibility from there into perpetuity.
44 Years = The amount of time that the challenges presented by having all these roads dropped in our lap by the State have never been fully, properly, permanently addressed, much less resolved.
$189,000,000 = Cost to install new pavement on ALL of Cullman County roads in 2017 dollars (if we could magically pave them all in one day)
$1,000,000 = Amount available in Cullman County’s annual budget to pave county roads … in any single year … up through 2015.
$90,000 = Cost per mile to install new pavement on most any county road (it is expensive to pave roads).
$2,400 = Amount per mile Cullman County receives from Alabama state gasoline taxes (we have to come up with the rest on our own). That helps greatly with day-to-day repairs and emergencies … but, it is hardly the $90,000 per mile that we really need.
11 miles = Length of roads that can get newly paved in any given calendar year paid from Cullman County’s current road paving budget.
1,800 miles = Total length of roads the Cullman County Road Department has to maintain on a daily basis.
2nd = Cullman’s rank among all Alabama counties in the total length of county roads maintained by the Cullman County Commission (Cullman is a big county).
1,789 miles = Total length of Cullman County Roads that are leftover each year which do not get new paving due to a shortage of funding.
Pretty amazing, isn’t it?
At currently available funding, it would take 162 years to re-pave all roads.
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With those sober facts about unincorporated county roads in mind (the above does not include incorporated roads like those in City of Cullman, Hanceville, Good Hope and other municipalities), community leaders have realized for years the system is unsustainable and unfixable in its present state.
In an unprecedented moment of political unity, the Cullman County Mayor/Commissioner Association took action today. They unanimously approved a resolution that will allow the Cullman legislative delegation to submit a local bill into the next session of the Alabama Legislature.
The bill itself is mathematically complex, yet simple in concept.
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If all goes as initially planned by legislators and agreed to today by Mayors and Commissioners, the new legislation – assuming it is approved by voters – will do the following:
1. Create a historical, sweeping ‘Cullman Road & Streets Repair Plan‘ to be voted on by the citizens of the County in the November 2018 general election.
2. This landmark ‘Cullman Road & Streets Repair Plan’ would add .03 cents per gallon to the existing countywide gasoline sales tax (currently at .01).
3. It would create .04 cents per gallon of new sales tax revenue on diesel fuel sold in Cullman. (There is currently no tax on diesel fuel.
4. Monies from these sales tax revenues would be spent SOLELY for materials for road repair, resurfacing projects, or bridge repair. NO salaries are to be paid from these funds.
5. Incorporated and unincorporated roadways would all benefit from all municipalities and county areas.
The cost to motorists with a standard 20-gallon gasoline tank would be approximately .60 cents from the increased gasoline tax.
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This new funding would provide county and city road departments with triple the available monies they have now to explicitly engage in much-needed repairs and upgrades.
Also, the 3X increase in income will be augmented by revenue from diesel sales tax. The tax on this petroleum product has never been levied for Cullman County. Thus, that additional income from diesel is not accurately calculable but would be significant nonetheless.
Is this new funding going to fix every road in Cullman immediately?
No. It would, however, be an active jump start on long overdue street repairs and road renovations in cities and throughout the county.
Will it prevent new tax dollars raised from being shipped off to Montgomery where they will never be seen by Cullman again?
Yes, the funds would – by statute – have to remain in (and be put to work) solely in Cullman County.
Will people living outside of Cullman pay into this ‘Cullman Road & Streets Repair Plan’?
Yes. The gasoline and diesel tax will be collected on ALL gas sales including to people traveling through Cullman on their way to someplace else.
How about County Bridges? Many of them are nearing the end of their productive lifespan; will they be included in this?
Yes. A good example is Big Bridge (County Road 222) over Smith Lake. Like many bridges in the county it was erected in the 1950-60’s ; it is in declining condition. Such structures will be included in this road plan to avoid closing them when they become structurally unsafe.
If all goes as planned and approved today, you – as a voting citizen of Cullman County – will have a chance to vote next November on whether you want to increase your participation in fixing Cullman’s decaying road system in the approximate amount of $.60 per tank full of gas.
Significantly more money for roads is not likely to come from the Federal government nor Montgomery. As Representative Corey Harbison said today:
“… if we are going to fix these roads, we are going to have to do it ourselves. Nobody else out there cares, and we can’t expect others to fix our problem for us, certainly not the Feds or the State. If we want better roads and streets, we are going to have to pay for it ourselves and fix the roads ourselves.”
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Cullman County Mayor/Commissioner Association
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Vote Of The People Coming On Sweeping Cullman Road Repair Plan
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