Cole County starts building plan for next sales tax

Paving busy gravel roads high on list

Cole County officials are already planning what will be included in the next half-cent sales tax for capital improvements.

At Wednesday’s County Commission meeting, commissioners and public works officials said they need to start putting together the plan next year because the vote will come in 2016.

One area that they want to address is upgrading gravel roads to paved.

County Engineer Eric Landwehr said the last time the policies to upgrade those roads was updated was in 2001.

“There is no documentation saying that the original goal of the half-cent sales tax was to pave all roads in the county,” he said. “It was never intended to do that.”

One of the biggest qualifications is that the road must have a 125-vehicle-a-day count to be considered for an upgrade.

“Unless you have homes being built on them, we don’t see much changes in those counts,” Landwehr said.

In the current tax cycle, Swift Road, from United Road to Boise Brule Road, will be upgraded along with Mount Carmel Road, south of Old Bass Road along with Boise Brule Road and Moreau Ridge Road.

Under the current standards, Loesch Road and Mount Hope Road would meet the requirements for an upgrade and could be done in the next cycle.

Eastern District Commissioner Jeff Hoelscher said while it may cost a lot to do the upgrades, the maintenance will be a lot less after they are improved.

He also suggested they look at cost-share projects, which have been done in subdivisions in the county, especially if residents would want a paved road, but didn’t meet the requirements for the upgrade.

“Mostly it comes down to if you buy a home on a gravel road you should expect to live on a gravel road,” said Presiding Commissioner Marc Ellinger.

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