Jefferson County budget woes leave roads with no repairs - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Jefferson County budget woes leave roads with no repairs

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JEFFERSON COUNTY - AL -

If you drive Jefferson County highways, chances are you've had a few encounters with potholes the size of pizzas. As the commission works out a new budget for 2013, the roads department is dealing with growing sinkholes and a shrinking staff. 

Right now the county is facing over a $20 million shortfall- and if they don't receive a favorable ruling on the bankruptcy case, that cash will have to come out of reserves.

It's a rough ride in Jefferson County.

"We've always kept our roads in prime condition; we don't have that same opportunity anymore," Wayne Sullivan, Director of Roads and Transportation, Jefferson County said.

And the potholes just keep getting bigger. 

"It was probably the size of a manhole and it was probably six inches deep and it's on a main thorough fair so we hit it and I thought another car hit us it was so bad," Andy Veal, a driver told us.

Cody Williams told us, his job requires daily travel around the county and all the cracked pavement is racking up a steep bill in car repairs.

"More money out of our pockets, especially if we're paying taxes to have this stuff done," he said. "But yet we're still having to fix our vehicles because the roads are so bad."

With half the staff and half the funding, the Roads and Transportation Director says, he's focusing the remaining resources on projects directly impacting public safety.

"We don't have the funding and we don't have the personnel to do the work that needs to be done," Sullivan said. "Our moral is in the toilet. These guys haven't had a raise in five years, they haven't had a merit increase of any kind. They are working for the same money they were four years ago."

The County Manager says, by delaying this work they're setting themselves up for even higher costs in the future.

"The problem that we are facing with a county this size is that we are not reinvesting in the deferred maintenance issues out there. You look at the roads - you let the roads deteriorate for too long, then we will have a massive repaving project," Tony Petelos, County Manager said.

Not only are  roads projects on hold, but HVAC maintenance, cooling towers, and boilers are also being left behind.  County Manager, Tony Petelos says, he believes those are things that if they are not maintained will break down in the next four years.

 

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