Roads within the Bartonville town limits have historically been a challenge for both the citizens and town councils. Decades ago, when we were a much smaller town with no tax base for their maintenance, citizens volunteered for “pot hole days”– using their own equipment and manpower in an attempt to keep the roads passable through “band aid” measures.
As the town experienced its first growth spurt, it was deemed that this method of maintenance was insufficient. . The council at that time decided to improve the roads by issuing bonds. The road bonds were paid out of the ad valorem property tax and the fund was built up to a sizable amount. Where a more permanent surface was used, the roads have held up fairly well—living up to, or exceeding their expectant life span. But the intention was that it would be constant and ongoing project.
Approximately six years ago, the town council decided to reallocate those funds directing them toward personnel expenses. The previous council chose to deplete the rainy day fund by paying off the bond debt and using the ad valorem taxes that were obligated to pay on the road bonds for other purposes. Had this action not been taken the town would not be subject to higher interest costs should they have to issue new bonds. It also strapped the town for working capital that could be used for roads and emergencies.
Currently, the funding for roads is primarily drawn from the fees collected from the payoff of the Tour 18 extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) agreement with Flower Mound, and the road tax. The monies received from other taxes and fees are presently budgeted for operating costs, i.e., police and administration. The previous administration assumed the taxes from the Lantana Town Center development would be sufficient to cover security costs and have a surplus. Using the developer’s financial projections, this will not happen. The town’s share of the sales tax will be used to pay for very limited police protection for the Lantana Town Center, with nothing left over.
Now we have come to another “fork in the road” in regards to road maintenance. In a recent work session, our Town Engineer presented a fact-based evaluation of roads. Years of neglect have taken their toll and the needs are great– but the funds are limited. This challenge will be an action item on the agenda at the next council meeting this Tuesday. The members of council will be discussing and deciding upon various options and setting priorities for immediate action. Your participation is encouraged.
Del Knowler, CURE Spokesman