Road department looking to cut $300K in expenses

Published 5:09 pm Friday, November 14, 2008

The Butler County Road Department is looking to reduce $300,000 in expenses prior to the next fiscal year, Chief Engineer Dennis McCall told county commission members on Wednesday.

“We’re going to be dealing with budget restraints over the next four years,” said McCall. “We may be looking at reducing our work force from 42 employees to 30 over the next year.”

Much of that reduction will come through attrition said McCall – scheduled retirement for some road workers as well as employee turnover. McCall said the cuts are necessary to avoid tapping into reserve funds that cover the department’s month-to-month operating costs.

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“We’re going to need a lot of patience from the people of Butler County,” said Commissioner Frank Hickman (District 3).

In the 1970s, said Chairman Jesse McWilliams, the county’s road department employed over 200 workers. But with no increase in state or federal funding since – and with gas prices rising astronomically – the 16 cents per gallon the county receives through gasoline tax offers little support for the road department.

McCall said the county has 550 miles of paved road to maintain. The life expectancy of an average road is 50 years, he said, and the majority of Butler County’s roads are well past the half-century mark.

Only 100 miles of those roads are eligible for federal funds and the commission approved a $50,000 match to $200,000 in federal funds to pave 1.6 miles of the Manningham Loop on Wednesday.