County paving

Friday, June 23, 2006

Positive strides in revising the county's paving program were made in a public hearing held this week. The hearing was held to discuss the proposed half-cent sales-tax increase on the Aug. 8 ballot in Cape Girardeau County.

The sales tax would pay for an expanded program of road paving in the county and would increase salaries and personnel in the sheriff's department.

In response to discussions with the 60 people who attended the hearing, the Cape Girardeau County Commission vowed to change its rules for selecting county paving projects and has decided explore a dust-control program.

Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones said the rule that forces the county to acquire all the easements before proceeding with a paving project should be changed to prevent one property owner from holding up an entire project. At the same time, Jones said he opposes the use of eminent domain to acquire easements.

He hopes to find other ways of solving the problem.

A number of people who attended the hearing were interested in the county doing something to control the dust on unpaved roads until any expanded paving program gets under way. The commission heard about some of those options Thursday morning from county highway administrator Scott Bechtold.

Some county residents have also complained about a recent county practice of accepting donations from people who want to see their paving project go to the top of the list. Jones said the commission will reconsider that practice as well.

The commissioners say they will make the case for the sales tax at town hall meetings not yet scheduled. The public hearing was a first step.

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