A Marion County woman refuses to back down and continued her quest for better roads in Marion County by addressing the county’s Board of Supervisors Monday.
Dolores Porter, who has spoken to the board multiple times over the past few years about road conditions and has even gone to Jackson to speak with state officials, brought up the poor state of Gates Road and others during the morning’s meeting in the upstairs courtroom at the courthouse.
“The only reason all of Gates Road hasn’t been repaired is because I’m not going until — I had four people out there — and we flagged (cars down) and still almost got run over,” District 1 Supervisor Blue Green countered. “I’m one of them that put on that vest and was trying to flag them down. If you would tell the people to slow down, I’ll finish patching it.”
Green added that if there’s money left over following bridge repairs, Gates and Crawley roads are his top two priorities to fix.
Porter replied that Gates Road should’ve been repaired even before Green took office and has been overlooked. She said she talked to state officials more than two years ago about it.
“No progress has been made, and still everybody is telling me it’s a local (problem),” she said. “Where is our tax dollars going and how come there’s nowhere in this county that I’ve traveled that I don’t see any new construction on roads in bad areas?”
Porter also asked why Marion County is so far behind other counties in the state and why no work is being done to make repairs and upgrades. Green said that once the state condemned so many wood piling bridges in the county, all the funds had to be directed to get them up to code that would have usually gone to repairing roads.
“We just have to wait until we can come up with some more money,” he added. “Every time I talk to one of the senators or representatives, I beg for money. That’s all you can do.”
Porter said she’s been begging and pleading for the past three years and still isn’t seeing results.
The primary issue is that Marion County doesn’t have the tax base to produce enough revenue like counties such as Lamar do, according to Green.
Porter then brought up the recent Department of Human Services scandal in which State Auditor Shad White uncovered that $94 million was misappropriated and said that if someone (inferring Brett Favre) could be paid $1.1 million to not show up at speaking functions, the state should be able to help out with repairing roads. She added these are the same people that are voted in to represent the public but instead took from the poor rather than help.
District 5 Supervisor Calvin Newsom then responded with a 13-minute answer explaining exactly why the county has such troubles maintaining the roadways.
“(We) do the best we can with the resources that are available,” he began. “The monies that are available now are not adequate to take care of Marion County. If we raised taxes, you hear problems and troubles saying we haven’t cut. Our departments have been cut to the bare bone. You asked, ‘Where is the money going?’ The money is going to the sheriff’s department, circuit and chancery courts having to be paid for, inmates and all have to be paid for; all of this has to be taken care of. The money going out to patch these roads is all the resources we have. We don’t have enough money to pave new roads in Marion County.”
He touched on several other subjects, saying that payroll takes up a big portion of the budget and isn’t limited to just salary. He said that it also includes retirement, Social Security and insurance. He said for things to get better there would need to be more revenue, which the county doesn’t have. The state only gives the county so much money for State Aid roads and determines what can be paved on an annual basis, but also state aid has been cut in the past 15 years, according to Newsom.
“It’s not that Marion County’s supervisors are just sitting, twiddling their thumbs,” he continued. “It’s easy to always look in from the outside and determine when you don’t know the whole story.”
Newsom noted that the cost of paving has gone up 400% since he took office as well.
“Here in Marion County we can’t purchase everything we want, and we can’t keep up with the Joneses because we don’t have the funds that some of our larger counties have. … The resources we have allow us to barely keep the roads patched. We have patching money, not paving money,” he finished.
No action was taken regarding the status of the county’s roads.