Working toward a common goal
Published 10:29 am Wednesday, January 6, 2016
The Lincoln County Board of Supervisors and two of our local legislators have taken a good first step in working together to improve the county’s infrastructure.
Rep. Becky Currie and Rep. Vince Mangold were present at Monday’s Board of Supervisors meeting to discuss the recent Mississippi Economic Council’s report outlining the dire need for infrastructure funding.
The infrastructure funding problem is a big one. A recent report says that 936 state bridges and 24,591 state lane miles are currently in need of repair. The number rises when local bridges and roads are considered — a total of 2,989 local bridges and 13,192 local road miles. In Lincoln County, 91 local and 15 state-maintained bridges were deemed deficient.
The total estimated cost to fully fund the state’s transportation needs, the report states, is $6.6 billion.
Lincoln County relies on state programs and the fuel tax to fund bridge and road work. While raising the fuel tax, especially at a time when fuel prices are low, seems like a logical way to increase funding, Currie said the tax isn’t expected to increase any time soon.
So where will the money come from? To start, the county needs to make sure it’s getting its fair share of state aid. According to District 3 Supervisor Nolan Williamson, the county is receiving only 4 percent of fuel taxes collected, when that number should be between 16-21 percent.
“These are things we need to look at desperately,” Currie said. “In not raising the fuel tax and making that happen we need to sit down and have meetings to ask why aren’t we getting what was in line? Let’s get [them] in a room and let’s talk about why are we just getting 4 percent? Let’s talk to the state aid people. I think it’d be a good idea, I can get these folks in a room — just name the date.”
The county needs the support of local legislators when it comes to state funding issues. Legislators do a variety of things in representation of their districts, but the most important task might be securing state funding.
We suggest that the Board of Supervisors — and the Brookhaven Board of Aldermen — meet regularly with all of our legislators to ensure that our needs are a priority.
“We should come together and make Lincoln County a great county,” District 1 Supervisor Rev. Jerry Wilson said. “The city of Brookhaven, we all just work together here to accomplish the goal that is out there, you know? Be a blessing to the people — that’s what its all about.”
“It’s a together thing, that’s exactly right,” Currie said.
Wilson and Currie are right.