By JUDY SHERIDAN
In a report to commissioners Monday, Parker County Judge Mark Riley recommended the court evaluate road and bridge operations, touted the court’s past accomplishments and expressed optimism for the new court’s future — which he believes will be less about politics and more about getting things done.
“I feel better now than I have at any time in my history of sitting in this chair about the ability of the five of us to focus and work with everybody, just like you commented,” Riley said, referring to new precinct 3 commissioner Larry Walden’s first remarks to the court.
Riley is beginning his fifteenth year as judge.
Walden, replacing two-term commissioner John Roth — who frequently opposed Riley — is the only new face on the court this year.
The judge said commissioners need to examine the lateral road fund, set up per special election in 1948 to preserve a source of funding for roads and bridges. Money from the general fund can be put in the lateral road fund, Riley said later, but cannot go the other way, from the lateral road fund to the general fund.
The lateral road fund is fueled by a separate portion of the overall property tax rate.
According to Parker County tax rate information, that component of the rate has mostly decreased since 2003-2004, when it was set at 9.5 cents per $100 valuation along with a rate of 22 cents per $100 valuation for the portion that fuels the general fund.
This year, the lateral road fund portion of the rate was set at 8.3 cents per $100 valuation, along with 33 cents per $100 valuation for the general fund.
The lateral road fund is the source of funding for the precincts, which draw varying amounts according to their miles of roadway and tax base size.
When he was on the court in 1987, the judge said, commissioners discussed their precinct budgets, as well as the lateral road fund budget.