County’s road problem solved

Published 10:13 pm Monday, July 21, 2008

Attend a Chilton County Commission meeting, and you’ll quickly learn what the biggest issue is in our county: roads.

Our roads are bad, residents want them to be better and the commission doesn’t have enough money to make them that way. So, people complain, commissioners shake their heads and no one is happy.

The only obvious solution is to raise taxes, but it’s also obvious that won’t happen. How likely are we to vote in a commissioner that promises to raise taxes in order to service roads? His only vote would come from his mother (good thing for his wife that we have secret ballots).

So, we need to think outside the box. I’ve been throwing ideas in from left field my whole life, but I’ve never gotten an out at home plate. This could be the one. My idea is a way to acquire some of the money necessary to pave roads without raising taxes. Impossible, you say? I think not.

Let’s hold an auction once a month, with the prize being your road being paved. Want your road worked on? Well, how much are you willing to pay? Of course, all those Chilton Countians unhappy with their road would have to determine how much they, plus all their neighbors, are willing to pay to have the work done.

This would work because it takes the responsibility for determining priorities for road projects out of the hands of the county and into the hands of the residents themselves. Roads that serve more people would be more likely to win the auction, which works well.

Of course, people think a decent road is a right and won’t be willing to foot the entire bill for a project. But the winning bid on a given month might be $1,000 split among 10 residents. $100 doesn’t seem like too much to spend for something that so many people obviously consider important, and that’s $1,000 the county wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

Poorer residents would likely draw the short straw here, but that’s not any different than it is now. At the very least, commissioners would have a simple way to shorten meetings delayed by talk about roads: “Come up with more money, and your patchy little piece of asphalt could be the lucky road next month. It’s entirely up to you.”

Note: Stephen Dawkins is the sports editor of The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears every Tuesday.