By: Shelly Robinson | Category: Other | Issue: February 2008
Gerry Payne, former District 1 County commissioner, says he can’t think of anything more important for Rogers County than the renewal of the one-cent road tax.
Rogers County is growing by leaps and bounds and with that growth is the need for new roads and maintenance of the roads and bridges already in place. There will be a vote before the people on February 5th to renew the county’s one-cent sales tax and according to Gerry Payne, it’s not just a good idea, it’s absolutely necessary.
As a former county commissioner for Rogers County District 1, Payne knows what he’s talking about. “The growth of Rogers County has been directly in line with the construction of our rural roads. It is vital that we renew this tax and keep our funding steady for road construction and maintenance.” Payne says Roger County is the heaviest populated rural county in the state and with all those vehicles traveling their roads, it’s important to stay on top of things.
“Historically, the road tax has always gone over well and passed with high percentages. We just want to make sure that our new residents understand the need for this tax renewal and how much it benefits them. This is one of those things that you can literally see what you are paying for every day when you drive to work and school and around the county,” explains Payne. “The commissioners are very careful with how the money is spent and the Board plans 3 to 4 years ahead of time to make the best use of the funds.”
The funds from the one-cent tax have already been earmarked to build roads and bridges and the county receives matching funds from the state and federal government for many projects, making the passage of the renewal even more important. Gas prices, diesel and oil prices are on the rise and Rogers County now has more miles of road surface to maintain than ever before.
Rogers County has some 1,800 miles of roads and the vast majority of them are paved, unlike some other nearby counties. “We have around 20 miles left to pave, we could have never gotten to this point without the road tax.” said Payne. He added there are many bridges that need attention and this is the way to fund those projects also.
Payne joined the commission in 1991 and just retired this past year. In his tenure in office, he’s seen fields once used for cattle and farming turn into vast housing additions. He said that there is a good balance between the taxes paid by these new residents and the increased demand for road improvements.
He’s also seen the advances in the materials and technology over the years. When Payne first came into the office, the county still went house to house and sprayed oil on top of the gravel to cut down on dust. Payne said gravel roads are hard on vehicles, especially on tires and windshields. Having the roads paved is a benefit for all who use them, from kids on bicycles to school buses. “It definitely cuts down on flat tires and damaged windshields and keeps things a lot cleaner. There’s just no comparison between hard surface and gravel.”
Voters can go to their regular polling places for the February 5th vote and cast their ballots from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. all across Rogers County.