One of the my tasks last week was to accumulate my biannual list of upcoming area road projects as a component of my 2009 Constituent Report. This report provides an update for local residents to know when road projects are scheduled in their area. The report also serves as a tool for allowing the people to know that their local officials are working hard to properly fund the roads in their area.
I enjoying providing this update because I feel that the roads issue is one of the two issues (the other being public safety) that are at the core of what government should be focused on and I believe that elected leaders have the responsibility to be especially transparent about their performance (or lack thereof) on this issue.
If you are fortunate enough to live in the Oklahoma County District 3 part of my district, odds are that you live on a paved road. Each year, Oklahoma County Commissioner Ray Vaughn spends about $5-7 million in a capital improvement program to upgrade roads and keep them in good shape. This program saves money in the long run because the improved roads require less ongoing maintenance. In my time in office I can only remember one contact from an Oklahoma County constituent concerned about county roads.
If you live in the Logan County part of my district, you may live on a dirt, gravel, or poorly paved road that has many potholes and requires much maintenance. Logan County Commissioners have no capital improvement budget for improving roads, and their allotted funding is used up just by trying to maintain the roads in their current condition. This leads to a "spinning wheels" effect as countless dollars are spent trying to maintain roads that do not have enough funding to be improved. One of the few ways for them to actually pave roads is to push the paperwork that secures state and federal funding when possible.
This will be the second time in my term of office that I have performed this reporting task and I noticed how much longer this year's list is than in 2007 when I assembled the list for the first time. When you receive your copy, you will notice that many of the road and bridge improvements will occur as a result of a series of state and federal funding programs.
I have become a strong critic of this system because we are now forced to elect our County Commissioners not on their ability to maintain roads, but on their ability to push paperwork in order to jump through a bunch of bureaucratic hoops. This is a costly system. It would make much more sense for local tax dollars to stay in local government instead of being sucked up by state and federal government and returned to local government only after the bureaucracy has soaked up a bunch of the money and imposed a series of costly restrictions on how the money can be spent. This is a massive waste of our taxpayer dollars.
This year's list contains about 72 million dollars of funding that local or state officials have secured, including several million dollars which Logan County District 2 officials just recently secured, for paving 15 miles of Forrest Hills, Midwest and Luther Roads. I have been impressed by the hard work these indiviudals have shown in getting the funding. The report is available at HouseDistrict31.com under the Reports menu option.