By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Members of the Escambia County Commission crossed their fingers last year, hoping that a new, countywide 1 percent sales tax would provide enough funding to not only cover recent budget shortfalls, but to provide money for badly needed repairs to the county’s rural roadways.
Apparently, the county is enjoying the first fruits of the new penny-on-the-dollar revenue enhancement tax, which went into effect July 1, 2017.
A significant portion of a resurfacing project that includes portions of Butler Street, Robinsonville Road, Sardine Road and Foshee Road will be covered under a federal funding initiative that was approved more than a year ago, but County Administrator Tony Sanks confirmed this week that the county’s $500,000 grant match would be paid with funds raised through the new tax.
District 4 Commissioner Brandon Smith of Atmore, whose district includes most of the area covered by Butler Street, indicated that county commissioners are still keeping their fingers crossed, but not as tightly.
“We’re trying to make ourself whole again,” Smith said. “We are hoping that the tax money will help make up for a lot of our shortfalls and put us in shape where we can address road problems when they come up, not have to wait until some other funding becomes available. We’ve got some roads that haven’t seen an asphalt truck in 40 years.”
According to figures provided by the county, the upcoming paving project includes the resurfacing of Butler Street (County Road 45) from Robinsonville Road (County Road 27) to the Monroe County line.
It also includes the resurfacing of Robinsonville and Sardine roads (County Road 27) from Butler Street to Foshee Road (County Road 18), as well as a new surface for Foshee Road, from Sardine Road.
Smith said he hoped the county would be able to do some additional work on the portion of Butler Street near the Monroe County line, where flooding has been a problem for years.
“There have been a lot of flooding issues there,” he said. “We hope to build that up for probably a couple hundred yards to help some with that flooding.”
Sanks reported during a recent commission meeting that the total cost of resurfacing the 17.224 miles will be about $2.4 million. County officials expect Mobile Asphalt Company crews to begin work later this month or early in September.
Smith said he’s anxiously awaiting the project’s onset.
“From our end, we’re ready to go,” he said. “We’re just waiting on the paving company to get here and get started.”