Cole County begins talk of extending sales tax

Although a vote won’t occur until 2016, the Cole County Commission is already starting to think about its plan for another proposal to extend the half-cent capital improvements sales tax.

Last week, commissioners had a discussion with some property owners who live along Landing Creek Road where the pavement ends at Dody’s Little Acres.

A few years ago, the commission voted not to do further pavement of the road because of the low traffic count at that time.

Property owners pointed out that of the approximately 87 vehicles that travel the road daily, according to the last count done in October 2013, 34 of those vehicles can be tractor trailers and the road isn’t wide enough in some spots to handle those trucks and another vehicle traveling on the road at the same time.

“As I said at the time we voted on this matter, if people buy a property on a gravel road, they should expect to live on a gravel road,” said Presiding Commissioner Marc Ellinger. “We’re to a point now that the main roads in the county have been paved, and those remaining gravel roads don’t meet the criteria for an upgrade that we have in place now.”

For a road to be considered for upgrading, it must have an average of 125 vehicles a day traveling on it.

“We may have reached the point where this is no longer part of the program,” Ellinger said.

“I think if we do that then we’ll see the tax go away,” said Eastern District Commissioner Jeff Hoelscher.

Ellinger and Hoelscher said there should be more exploring of neighborhoods helping to pay for improvements, possibly doing neighborhood improvement districts (NID).

“A lot of times, people want the improvements, but don’t want to pay for it. But NIDs are a great thing, and both sides share in the cost,” Ellinger said. “In the end, the land owners benefit more because the improvements make their properties more valuable.”

Public works officials said they’d like to put Landing Creek on the list for the next five-year round of improvements, as well as South Landing Creek Road. To do both roads would cost more than $883,000. The sales tax usually generates about $25 million over five years.

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