WEATHERFORD — Commissioners Monday grudgingly approved a new formula for road and bridge allocation funding, ending arguments that had been ongoing for the past month.
Precinct 4 Commissioner Steve Dugan said he asked for the item following an examination at the legality of the way things had been done previously, including talks with County Attorney John Forrest and Auditor Brianna Fowler.
“We tried to do things fairly and go back and forth, and it seems somebody always feels like they’re getting the short end of the stick,” Dugan said, before rescinding his previous vote of a 26-24 division split.
According to case law, commissioners should use a variety of factors — including tax base, road mileage, condition, topography, age of the road equipment, square miles in each precinct, traffic patterns and the presence of municipalities — to come up with their own formula so that funds are not arbitrarily divided equally among each precinct.
“What the court has to determine is how much weight to give to each [factor],” Forrest said.
Dugan made a new motion to put a 50-50 weight on road percentage and revenue for each precinct, which was eventually approved 3-1.
“I never thought y’all would make me like that old formula, but it’s looking good today,” Precinct 1 Commissioner George Conley said, “because this one sucks.”
Conley said the new formula would cause him to lose a half a million dollars, and that Precinct 2 would also be losing money.
“Precinct 1 and 2 bring in a lesser amount of taxes,” Precinct 2 Commissioner Craig Peacock said.
According to numbers presented Monday, Precinct 1 has a certified road mileage of 297 and brings in about 18.9 percent of the county’s revenue; Precinct 2 has 384 miles and brings in 14.23 percent; Precinct 3’s mileage is 358 with a 29.2 percent revenue and Precinct 4 has 189 miles and brings in 37.6 percent.
Conley maintained that it wasn’t fair, and that it felt that his and Peacock’s precincts were being punished.
“It may not look fair, but facts are facts,” Dugan said.
Walden acknowledged that it may not seem fair, but that each precinct’s revenue did not need to be shipped to another part of the county.
“Think about the taxpayers in your precinct shipping money to other precincts,” he said.
Conley said that as a county, they should all help each other, but added that he was tired of arguing, with Peacock saying he was voting for the motion “just to be done with it.”
Commissioners followed that up with unanimous approval to split the $4 million road and bridge fund, with County Judge Pat Deen asking if there was any further discussion.
“I guess I could throw a fit and scream and holler and make an ass out of myself, like others, and maybe something would change,” Conley said.
“If you’re referring to me, commissioner, I did no such thing,” Walden retorted. “What I told you is it was wrong and illegal.”