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ROAD SUPERINTENDENT: $343k paving budget 'slap in the face'

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 By PETER SAWYER

psawyer@lafollettepress.com

JACKSBORO—Campbell County Road Superintendent Dennis Potter last week asked the county financiers to give him $1.5 million for road paving.

“I’m at your mercy, and I’m going to tell you what I need—I want $1.5 million [every year],” Potter told members of the county’s Budget and Finance Committee on June 20. 

He called his department’s approved $343,000 for paving roads a “slap in the face” and believes it’s insufficient for Campbell County’s needs.

“As things progress, we’re just not paving enough roads,” Potter said. “There’s $88 million coming into the county, and all we can muster up for paving roads is $343,000? With all this money, and with all this fat that’s in this budget, surely we can make some cuts (to) pave some roads.”

Paving roads is as important an investment as the new justice center, Potter contends. County road conditions are one of the biggest complaints lodged by people in the community, he said.

Potter told committee members they are in charge of the county’s money to ensure department heads are equipped to do their jobs. The county needs roads, he said.

“My concern is (it’s) going to get worse.”

Potter asked for the money before his budget was approved, requesting it come from cuts in other departments instead of a tax increase. But the finance department informed him the request would require the elimination of 40 positions. 

Potter doesn’t believe cutting positions to fund his request is necessary. 

Committee member Rusty Orick compared the county budget to mayonnaise being spread thinly over a sandwich. 

“We’ve tried,” Orick said. “We’ve tried to help. You know that.”

Orick referenced the sales tax referendum. The referendum—which allowed citizens a chance to vote whether or not to increase the local option sales tax—failed twice. Had it passed, it would have provided more funding for paving county roads.

The budget and finance committee chose not to reconsider the highway department’s budget.