By Jen Kastner
HOWARD COUNTY- More wear and tear can be seen all along Howard County roads. County Commissioners blame energy industry traffic for much of the damage. The Commissioners are tired of making taxpayers foot the repair bills so they're looking to charge energy companies up to $10,000 for new wells built right off of Howard County roads.
The boom keeps getting bigger. It's great for the economy.
"Yet, at the same time, it has taken a large toll on our county roads over the last three years," Precinct 3 County Commissioner, Jimmie Long, said. He and the other Commissioners say oilfield traffic has created much of the damage.
At a meeting on Monday, Commissioners discussed the idea of requesting for local energy companies to pay anywhere between $7,500 and $10,000 for each new well drilled right off of one of the Howard County roads. The cash that is collected would go towards repairs.
"It's not a cure all for everything, but it may help," Howard County Judge, Mark Barr, said.
"It will be a faith agreement. There's nothing we can do to make them sign [the request] but [we'd have] a good faith agreement- a gentlemen's agreement to help offset the cost to the taxpayers of Howard County," Long said.
Howard County has 567 miles of county roads. We're told it would cost an estimated $50,000 repair or rebuild just one mile of one of those roads. Taxes have already been raised to help with the repairs but commissioners say it's still not enough. They now believe it's up to the energy companies to step in.
"They can sign it and send it back to us, along with a check, hopefully. Or, they can chuck it in the trash, if you really want to know the truth," Judge Barr said.
However, Judge Barr adds that if companies ignore these requests, there is the potential that the county could sue them if it has the hard evidence to prove those companies are damaging local roads.
Commissioners will meet again in a couple of weeks to continue hammering out the details of the proposal.