Montague County officials are constantly working to repair and maintain back county roads. Many of the roads are taking an extra beating, due to heavy traffic brought in by the booming oil and gas industries.
Jon Kernek is the County Commissioner for Precinct 1. He estimates his precinct in South East Montague County has 98 percent of the counties drilling. Kernek said, "We get calls every day where they're moving rigs in and out and they literally destroy the roads. So we have to run out there and see if we can patch them up so they're passable again".
Even though Precinct 1 has the vast majority of the oil and gas drilling operations they weren't getting any extra funds to keep up with road maintenance. Their budget for bridges and roads is the same percentage as the other 3 precincts.
"We pay our salaries, the hands we've got six hands and they get $250,000 and that leaves us about $270,000 for 190 miles of road for the year so it's pretty tight for the budget."
After some fast calculations, Kernek figures they operate on a budget of 27 cents per mile, per year.
Recently Kernek managed to tap into the counties unencumbered fund for more than $100,000. The fund is comprised of fees charged to the oil and gas companies. "We declared an emergency and got another $100,000. We'll put $40,000 in rock, $40,000 in diesel, and then the rest in labor. We've already used all our funds this year and we've still got another six months to go to finish out the year".
The money will help, but only for so long. "The long term solution is just to just peck away at it the best we can we keep the roads up and hopefully they're going to be moving up north a little bit and alleviate some of the pressure on us."
Kernek said the only way to change the percentage of the budget they receive, would be new legislation. There is the chance Montague residents could see a small tax hike, but this would most likely be offset by a tax cut. That estimated cut is thanks, in part, to revenues brought in by oil and gas companies.