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Court takes heat over county roads

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Commissioner blames roll-back

JOEY DAUBEN

The Ellis County Press

WAXAHACHIE – County commissioners were berated with citizens upset over road conditions and a presentation blaming a citizen-led property tax rollback as one of the reasons for the detirieation of thoroughfares.

Commissioner Bill Dodson, before rows of angry citizens, said inflated material costs and a property tax rollback in 2001 helped cause a reduction in upkeep on county roads.

Roy Callender saw it differently, as he and several other residents of Dodson’s Precinct 2, an Ennis-dominated district, stood at the podium and criticized misspending and past commissioners’ court mistakes.

"Where’s the money going?" Callender said. "We are one county. [Commissioners] need to work together."

Dodson said fuel costs rose 239 percent and material costs increased 172.8 percent, a result of inflation (when government prints more money) and only a 14 percent increase in the county budget during that time.

Callender said he found records showing Precinct 1 was able to repair 140 miles of road during the time period of 2000 to 2007, but Precinct 2 was only handling 40-plus miles in the same time frame. Dodson was elected in 2006.

Dodson’s strategy to deal with the issue was listed in a PowerPoint presentation. In those goals, he highlighted the county’s focus should be:

· Shut the gate to new development

· Rethink commissioners court distribution of funds (Precinct 2 has 41 percent of the county, 35 percent of the county roads);

· Allocate dollars based on mileage, not population

Callender alleged Dodson and County Judge Chad Adams of "lying" by telling the courtroom Ellis County gains additional roads. "New roads are built with concrete, not asphalt," he said. "Not a single commissioner sitting [at the table] has ever built a road in this county."

County officials said 65 percent of the overall budget goes towards justice-related expenses including the jail, sheriff’s office, courts and county/district attorney.

Adams, meanwhile, thanked the citizens for turning out and the commissioners for dealing with difficult issues the court has encountered.

Residents "help us justify our budget expenses," Adams said.


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