The Young County Commissioners Court held a public hearing to discuss concerns and needed repairs of county roads pertaining to funds allocated under state bill 1747 during Monday morning's commissioners court meeting.

SB 1747 set aside $225 million for the purpose of repairing county roads damaged by oil and gas industry vehicles. The money is allocated according to how much activity occurs within a given county, and Young County learned early in December that it was eligible for $577,529. Under the guidelines of the bill, county officials were required to hold a public hearing prior to establishing which roads would be repaired.

“We were touching the base that the state had us touch upon, which was to give the community some input,” said Commissioner Mike Sipes. “We put the community on notice that if they had any concerns, that now was the time to voice those concerns and let us know what they were so we could explain things to them.”

Several citizens showed up to ask questions and request repairs to specific roads. Among the largest of the concerns was how the county road improvements would affect ad valorem tax rates in districts around the county.

Young County Tax Assessor Luke Robbins said that property values would not increase as a result of any county road improvements. According to Robbins, the first year that a County Energy Transportation Reinvestment Zone (CETRZ) is created, which would likely be 2014, a foundation is then established pertaining to property taxes within the zone.

“The first year that it goes in (the CETRZ), my understanding is that they use that as a baseline,” Robbins explained. “So if that property (within the CETRZ) is worth more in subsequent years, then the portion above the baseline on those properties basically would go into a road and bridge fund exclusively.”

Sipes' assessment on the ad valorem tax issues echoes Robbins'.

“I think that we're going to be in a completely tax-neutral situation,” he said. “In spending this grant money, we're basically just going to be repairing and improving the things that need repairing and improving, and that it will not affect our tax rates and our tax assessments at all. I don't think we'll see anything but better roads out of it.”

Read the entire story in the midweek edition of The Graham Leader.