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Finances, projects reviewed by road advisory committee

Lake County’s Road Advisory Committee met in Paisley on Thursday, Jan. 23, to review forthcoming projects, finances and a general update on the state of the department.

The advisory committee’s membership in attendance included Lake County Commissioners Dan Shoun and Brad Winters, Lake County Roadmaster Rick DuMilieu, Road Dept. Secretary Nicki Cobian, and representatives of the five Lake County road districts: Carl Shumway, district 5, Dennis O’Leary, district 2, Joe Cahill, district and Kit Collins, district 1.

Shoun led the meeting, providing an update on the state of current key funding legislation, such as the oft-discussed Secure Rural Schools and Communities Self-Determination Act (SRS) funding and the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program.

The SRS funds saw a one-year renewal last fall by Congress, and the PILT dollars have passed through the House in the past week, Dumilieu said during a recap of the meeting.  The PILT program is attached to the farm bill and is expected to soon pass through the Senate, he said.

The SRS program originated in the 2000-2006 era, facing yearly renewals in diminishing amounts since that time.  The initial funding amount received by Lake County was $3.5 million, DuMilieu said, with current renewal amounts coming in at $1.8 million.

There is also interest at the federal level in developing a 10-year extension of the program so as to find a longer-term solution that would circumvent the annual renewal of the program.

Dumilieu noted that the road department has been long operating on a skeletal crew in light of reduced funding through the years.  Property taxes do not fund the department, but rather fees collected through gas taxes and vehicle registration fees, he said.

Federal funding through programs as PILT and SRS also provide dollars for the road department, as well as local schools.

Also discussed by the committee was the Federal Lands Access Program funding slated for receipt in 2015 for the complete reconstruction of Dog Lake Road,  DuMilieu said. Federal funds in the amount of $4 million will be awarded to the county for this project, as confirmed last October, he said.

The project pertains to a five-mile stretch of Dog Lake Road, and a NEPA study will be done this year, DuMilieu said.  The project won’t involve new road beds, but will include reworking the top coat and base, he said.

DuMilieu said key Forest Service personnel involved in the success advocacy of the project included Jody Perozzi, Amanda McAdams and Amada Thorp, along with the Association of Oregon Counties and county commissioners.

Projects forthcoming include maintenance efforts such as rock screening and shoulder and gravelling work for the winter months.  In the warmer spring and summer months, there are chip sealing, shouldering and paving work efforts planned.

A total of 25 miles of chip sealing throughout the county, from the northern area all the way south to the California border, is part of the planned work, along with four miles of paving in either Adel or the Goose Lake Valley, depending on the rock source, Dumilieu said.

Other discussion during the meeting included the county’s continued talks of an ordinance that would allow ATV vehicle operation on its roads.  Commissioner Brad Winters led this discussion, DuMilieu said.

The primary purpose of this discussion was to keep the committee in the loop on the ordinance’s development with regard to issues as speed.

Two proposals currently under discussion pertain to a local group advocating for access by ATVs to all county roads, while representatives of the state’s park and recreation department seek a more designated and specific local routing.

Most of the county’s concerns with the ordinance are centered around liability, DuMilieu said.  At present, the county is working with the Association of Oregon Counties’ state program manager in seeking recommendations on their concerns.

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