Several Burnet County residents living along County Road 336 came to grumble about the crumble on Oatmeal Loop during the Commissioners Court meeting Tuesday, July 27. Their Precinct 3 commissioner, Billy Wall, and County Judge James Oakley had some good news for them: More money is on the way to help fix the cracked and deteriorating roadway.
“I’m not only working on County Road 336 and 330 and 334 and others, but I’m also personally donating base to the county for free,” Wall told them. He had given filler to a resident who said he used it to fix eight potholes.
The better news was what Wall called “a shot in the arm” for all four county precincts. He pointed to Oakley’s plans to raise the general fund contribution to the road and bridge fund by a half-cent per $100 property tax evaluation. This is not an increase in property taxes, just an increase in budget transfer.
Oakley said he will file the 2021-22 proposed budget on Friday, July 30. Public hearings will be held at the Commissioners Court’s Aug. 17 meeting. The final approved budget goes into effect Oct. 1.
In total, Wall expects an increase of $170,000 in his precinct’s budget for the next fiscal year, money he plans to spend on roads.
“Those roads needed to have general maintenance — chip and seal — every seven years, but the budget has not allowed us to do that,” Wall continued. “To rebuild those roads costs twice as much money, but that’s what we are facing now.”
The road and bridge fund will also get a boost from retired debt service. Each of the four precincts will find about $30,000 more in their budgets beginning Oct. 1.
In other business, commissioners approved an adjusted lake level for Lake Buchanan. The Lower Colorado River Authority adjusted the level to 1,020 feet from 1,018 feet, which was set in the 1980s.
“That doesn’t mean it’s going to be at 1,020 feet,” Oakley explained. “That means they can wait until it’s at that level before having to open the floodgates in the case of a big rain event.”
The adjustments will be made to maps and computer simulations for more precise predictions.
Also, Oakley urged unvaccinated Burnet County residents to take that final step to protect themselves and others against COVID-19.
“Don’t let your guard down completely,” he said. “We are experiencing a resurgence of the Delta variant, and most of the people who are getting it are unvaccinated.”
He added that coronavirus vaccinations and testing are free and easy to find.