WEATHERFORD — As a Parker County commissioner, Precinct 3’s Larry Walden receives calls almost daily from residents, but not all requests are theirs to fulfil, he told Weatherford Noon Lions Wednesday afternoon.
“One of the initial reasons I ran for commissioner was I didn’t feel there was enough information out there about what was going on,” he said. “Commissioners court handles every bit of business that the county does. Who sets the budget for the county? We do. Who sets the tax rate? Commissioners court.
“If a contract comes through, we review that and take action based on the county attorney’s recommendation.”
Walden said a common misconception is that the county gets the bulk of tax money, providing a breakdown of taxes for a Weatherford resident to prove that’s not the case — 53 percent to Weatherford ISD, 21 percent to the city of Weatherford, 12.44 percent to Parker County, 5.47 percent to Weatherford College, 4.69 percent to the hospital district and 3.19 percent to lateral road.
Precinct 3 has 365 miles of county roads, and uses those funds to build and maintain those stretches.
“If it was only the lateral road tax, we wouldn’t do anything except fill the potholes, and maybe keep signs up and things mowed,” Walden said.
However, each precinct has received some funding from various transportation bond projects over the last several years.
“We don’t have enough money to operate and do the things we need to do, but we get by with the same money that we got in other years,” he said.
As a financial breakdown, Walden said the cost to overlay a 22-foot road with two inches of hot mix asphalt for one mile runs about $100,000. To reconstruct the whole road, which is what typically happens as the roads were built in the 1950s, without any base underlay costs about twice that amount.
Commissioners have hosted numerous budget workshops within the last month, and proposed a no-new-revenue tax rate for the next fiscal year, which allows them to get money from new construction only.
“We’re struggling to get through the budget process. We have a lot of needs ... most of the county buildings are old, need some kind of repair and should’ve been replaced some time ago and additional buildings built,” Walden said. “But taxpayers don’t want to pay for that right now.”
The commissioner emphasized the importance of the county’s roadway system particularly with the new growth and residential development coming in.
“We’re getting subdivision after subdivision after subdivision and we have roads that are not wide enough,” he said. “And some people say, ‘Well, just widen the road.’ We will never have enough money to buy the right-of-way with the price that land is right now.”
Walden said he plans to make a proposal to take money out of fund balance to get more money out there, as well as further discussion on how the road and bridge funds are divided among each precinct.
Commissioners are expected to meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
“It’s a challenging position we have to be a commissioner and handle the staff we have and try to do it on a budget that’s really not enough money,” Walden said. “But we signed up for it because we want to make things better.”