GATESVILLE — Coryell County commissioners may be faced with a difficult decision — to increase spending for either additional road repairs or for more felony trials next year.
Allen Neel, county road and bridge superintendent, made a pitch to commissioners Monday for a $240,000 increase in his department budget to reseal 39 miles of hard-surfaced county roads next year.
The county usually reworks 17 or 18 miles of road per year, Neel said.
“It is time to start doing something” to restore some neglected roads “or we will completely lose them,” he said.
“The county may not have the money to maintain 430 miles of paved roads,” County Judge John Firth said, citing the current size of the county road system.
“There are a lot of roads that should never have been paved to start with,” Neel said. “It will be a lot less time and money to reseal them now than rip them up and start from scratch later.”
Six miles of road would be reworked and resealed, he said, with about 33 miles to be resealed under his proposal.
Commissioner Jack Wall asked Neel for traffic counts on the roads slated for repair.
“Some of these roads probably don’t have the traffic to justify” the work, Wall said. “I’m afraid some of these roads won’t have 20 people a day.”
County Attorney Brandon Belt, who said he had conferred with 52nd District Judge Trent Farrell and District Attorney Dusty Boyd, urged commissioners to budget $36,000 for visiting judges to help ease the district’s caseload in the coming year.
Belt also urged the commissioners to approve Boyd’s request to hire and support another assistant district attorney at a cost of $63,800.
Bringing in visiting judges and adding another prosecutor would let the county clear another one or two cases a month and reduce the number of resettings, Belt said.
Boyd and two assistant prosecutors are working 762 open felony cases, including some left over from 2011 and 2012.
“If Dusty had another hand and could get caught up, he could stay caught up,” Belt said.
Sheriff Johnny Burks said increasing the number of trials would require adding bailiffs. District Clerk Janice Gray said the added caseload also would require additional staff in her office.
Commissioners want to approve the final draft for the new budget by the end of July. County Auditor Ben Roberts told commissioners he would have a draft of the budget for them to examine in two weeks.