• August 22, 2019

Road department requests to expand - Odessa American: Roads

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Posted: Thursday, July 18, 2019 2:30 pm

The Ector County Highways and Streets Department says it is time to cash in on promises made to voters during the election cycle.

County residents supported the creation of the Ector County Assistance District to levy a sales tax of 1.25 cents per dollar in all of Ector County outside the city limits of Odessa and Goldsmith in hopes of bringing additional funds to departments desperate for funding.

Ector County Commissioners began receiving sales tax checks from the state after official implementation in April and total payments to date are about $3.7 million.

Officials are using the summer to plan for the next fiscal year and commissioners previously told voters that the Ector County Sheriff’s Office, the environmental enforcement unit and the highways and streets department would be their top priorities.

They have not indicated what percentage of the sales tax would go to each department.

Ector County Highways and Streets Department Director Evans Kessey said some of the most essential resources required to provide maintenance services to the county are missing. He said the goal during the initial budget meeting with the county judge this month was to convey the constraints the department is operating under and the impact it is having on the public.

Kessey said productivity of the department has been compromised and constant equipment repairs from improper storage have often halted activities for up to weeks at a time. The county recently approved a bid specification for metal shed covers to remedy this issue, but many others still remain a concern.

He said his lean staff of 16 people have struggled to keep up with projects and maintenance requests in a timely manner and he is requesting about 30 more positions be created from road maintenance technicians to an assistant director of operations.

“The population is increasing and of course traffic demand management has become a priority in our community right now,” Kessey said. “The county has a need for infrastructure development. My prime concern is the people of Ector County because part of the reason we’re not being responsive to citizens’ requests is we don’t have the personnel.”

Kessey said budget decisions are left up to the Commissioners’ Court but hopes his department will benefit from the county’s sales tax collection in a big way.

“This is going to level a lot of activities in a much better way so that we can provide efficiency and productivity to the public and be on track with requests,” he said.

Kessey referred back to what residents said during town hall meetings and how they voted at the polls and said, “anyone living in the county knows our roads are poor.”

He said citizens have determined there is a need and in the past were told there was not enough money to address the problems.

“We have the money now, so you can’t retract,” he said.

Commissioners have reinforced their desire to tackle these areas identified by residents as pressing concerns, but the proposed 2020 budget will not be completed until early August. The final budget must be adopted by commissioners by Sept. 10.

Odessa, TX

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