1. The Unit Road System will ensure professional management of roads and bridges in Angelina County. It will (1) provide better road construction and maintenance; (2) save money; and (3) provide transparency for all of our tax dollars. This is not complicated nor unusual. Sixty-four counties in Texas have adopted it, and every city in Texas with a population above 10,000 has commissioners or councilmen, and all of them have a unit road department. All roads in the cities are under the management of a road or street manager that has professional training or experience in road building and maintenance. Why do they all do this? Because it is the most efficient and transparent way! With a Unit Road System, the Commissioners hire the Road Manager, set his salary, and set his budget. They set the policy and he has to carry it out or they fire him and get someone else. That is exactly what Angelina County does with the landfill. They hire a manager, set his salary and his budget, and fire him if he does not do a good job.
2. The additional cost for this road manager should not exceed $100,000, including an assistant. Nacogdoches pays under $70,000 for a great manager. Angelina County’s road and bridge budget is about $4.5 million for 2021. The cost for professional road and bridge management is only 2% of that total. He will be able to save much more than that with competitive bidding, elimination of duplications and proper management of personnel. Also, our roads will be fixed regardless of what precinct they are in.
3. There will be no need for any qualified employee to lose their job. As bad as the roads are in Angelina County, it will probably require additional personnel. The Commissioners will all be responsible to the citizens for the success of the road department. This will also allow them much more time to deal with other county issues that require their attention.
4. No business of any size can be run efficiently without proper management at all levels. We have the worst roads ever in Angelina County and that old adage is still true: “It is the height of stupidity to keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result.” Angelina County must make a change if we want better roads.
5. Mr. Robert Bass, the Unit Road expert, outlined the duties of a Road Engineer or Administrator as follows:
· Ensure that the policies of the Commissioners’ Court relating to county roads are faithfully executed.
· Supervise the administration of the county road department.
· Prepare detailed annual budget estimates for the construction and maintenance of the county roads and the operation of the county road department.
· Prepare estimates and specifications for the equipment, materials, supplies and labor necessary for the construction and maintenance of the county roads and the operation of the county road department.
· Serve as custodian of the equipment, materials and supplies belonging to the county road department.
· Prepare plans and specifications for county road construction and maintenance.
· Maintain cost-accounting records of county road department expenditures.
· Keep an inventory of county road department equipment, materials and supplies.
· Perform any other duties required by the Commissioners’ Court that are consistent with this subchapter.
6. The threat of a tax increase by those opposed to the Unit Road System is disturbing and misleading to the public. No taxes will be increased unless the Commissioners propose it. They just borrowed $6million on a tax note without asking the public. That alone may increase our taxes. They absolutely control the budget of every county department, including the Sheriffs Office, the Landfill, the Health Department, the Airport, and the Courthouse.
7. Transparency is critical in the use of public funds. Under the Unit Road System, the Road Supervisor is required to file a public report once a month of all the department’s activity and expenses. However, under the present system, the Commissioners file no report of their activity or expenses. There is, therefore, absolutely no transparency for the taxpayer to know where their money is going. We know they are spending it, but not where or how.
8. The opposition to the Unit Road System is coming from some of the current County Commissioners. The Commissioners feel they will lose control of their political power. Their employees are doing what their boss tells them. We understand all about that. The truth is that the employees are simply going to have another boss that knows road construction and maintenance because the Commissioners will be required to hire a professional manager of the Unit Road Department. All employees will work under his direct management anywhere in the county where they are needed.