Catoosa seeks road to success

Catoosa seeks road to success

March 29th, 2009 by Beverly Carroll in Georgia

In the short time Chuck Taylor has been supervisor of Catoosa County's roads department, he has made some headway with road repairs and corralled runaway storm drainage problems.

But a five-year strategic plan with a nearly $2 million price tag could raise the department to a new level of efficiency and effectiveness, he said.

During a recent County Commission work session, Mr. Taylor outlined 10 goals that included hiring eight people and buying $1.7 million of equipment.

Commissioners were impressed with the plan, but said the economic climate makes it more a "wish list" than a blueprint.

"We need to upgrade equipment," Commissioner Jim Cutler said. "And a lot of our roads are narrow and curvy. Some have dangerous drop-offs. But we are in a situation where we are going to have to look at everything project by project."

Mr. Taylor's list of equipment includes a request for a trencher that would reduce the ditch-cleaning crew from five to two men. That would help with one of the county's biggest problems - stopped-up drainage ditches that back up and flood in heavy rains. Targeting those ditches is one of Mr. Taylor's priorities.

"We have found all kind of goodies," he said. "We find logs, limbs and leaves usually thrown in by the residents. We have pulled out kids' pedal cars. Everything goes into a ditch."

The commission recently agreed to buy a bucket truck after hearing that employees were standing on the roofs of trucks to cut dead tree limbs.

"That was a safety issue," Mr. Cutler said.

Commissioners budgeted $9 million in special purpose local option sales tax from the 2009 cycle of the 1 percent tax.

But commissioners said they cannot count on the SPLOST money. As unemployment increases and the economy slows, sales tax collections tend to dwindle. County Finance Director Carl Henson said January revenue is lower than the same period in 2008. Overall, there has been a 7.7 percent drop in sales tax collections over the past 10 months.

Other goals Mr. Taylor listed include hiring two employees to head a road shoulder improvement program; three full-time employees for road patching and three people for year-round tree trimming and removal.

He also suggested creating a permit program aimed at regulating right-of-way modifications.

"At this time, there is not a way to track any excavations or modifications that occur within rights of way," he said. "Anyone can dig at any time without permission or monitoring to ensure restoration is being done correctly."

A permit program would allow the county to track the work, he said.

"The county would know in advance who is doing what, that repairs are done correctly and provide a source of revenue to cover inspection costs."