BY DAVID FISHER
Weakley County Highway Supervisor Jeff Cosby answered questions concerning revenues and expenditures posed by members of the Public Works Committee, when they met on Friday, June 16.
After carefully reviewing the Highway Department budget for FY 2023-2024, and amending it to correct a clerical error, commissioners voted to approve the budget, as amended.
When quizzed about major projects and expenditures planned for the coming fiscal year, Cosby stated the only equipment purchase planned for FY 2023-2024 is a tar tank, which will be used to store hot liquid tar for patching roads. He said the tank, costing approximately $72,000, will be located on a concrete pad at the Highway Department. The tar tank will have heaters and agitators to keep the hot tar from hardening. He remarked the Highway Department is currently using a crude, homemade tank and a new one is badly needed.
Cosby noted every county in Tennessee is receiving federal funding for new bridges through the IMPROVE Act. “We’ve already had several bridges repaired in the past couple of years with federal dollars,” he said.
Cosby mentioned two federally funded bridges will be built in the county this year at no cost to local taxpayers. The bridges will be constructed on Lower Sharon Road and Ryan Road near Martin. He explained, although Weakley County must pay for the construction of the bridges up-front, 100 percent of the cost will be reimbursed by the federal government.
Concerning road improvements, Cosby said, “We’re already doing some road resurfacing – mostly tar and chip. Once they release money from the state, I’m probably going to hot mix some roads. But I don’t know yet. The cost of materials have increased and are so high, it now costs $140,000 to $150,000 per mile to resurface a road. Two years ago, we could have covered a mile for about $100,000-$110,000.”
Plans call for improving road surfaces on several county roads, including: Brawners Road, located between Gleason and McKenzie; Tarver Road near Greenfield; and Hankins Road near Sharon. “We just finished Pittman Road, and Boaz Road is ready to be resurfaced,” Cosby said. “We’re grinding them down now and getting them ready to be resurfaced.”
According to Cosby, there aren’t any facility improvements in the FY 2023-2024 budget. There are also no road additions or extensions planned at this time.
Regarding employee benefits, he noted insurance premiums have increased 8.0 percent.
As far as staffing is concerned, Cosby stated no positions are being eliminated at the Highway Department. He remarked that there are currently no raises in the FY 2023-2024 budget for Weakley County employees. However, he pointed out that the Weakley County Commission may decide to give county employees across-the-board pay increases, once commissioners complete their calculations and determine what the estimated total overall revenues and expenditures will be.