A Pulaski County Quorum Court committee that reviewed proposals Tuesday for a new Broadway Bridge were told by Judge Buddy Villines the county has the capability to provide $20 million toward the project.
In a Jan. 7 letter from Villines to the quorum court, the judge said county officials should consider carefully what action they take about the bridge and not be afraid of making a substantial capital investment.
"The replacement of the Broadway Bridge is a once in a lifetime opportunity to enhance the economic well-being of this community," Villines said. "Pulaski County is in a position to provide a 25 percent match ($20 million) for the construction of a significant structure that will stand for 100 years or more."
The design state for a new bridge will take place this year with construction to be completed in 2016.
"Because our obligation will be paid over this four-year period, we can meet this obligation without jeopardizing our priority, which is maintaining the roads and bridges in the unincorporated areas."
Villines pointed out to quorum court members several ways the necessary revenues could be raised:
1) The county currently has a $9 million reserve fund. "Each year we set aside up to $1.5 to $2 million in order to match funds that may come available or to be in a position to address a good project that would not happen otherwise," Villines said. "Over the next four years, this has amounted to 6 percent of our budget. Current reserve due to this policy is $9 million."
2) Villines said continuing the current procedure of putting away money during the next four years would add at least $6 million to the reserve fund ($1.5 million per year.
3) Villines said the recently passed statewide sales tax that will be turned back to the cities and counties is estimated to bring $2.5 million to Pulaski County each year. "Counting only 2014, 2015 and 2016, it will increase our revenues by $7.5 million," Villines said.
Villines said he believes the county has the resources to provide the match because of: $9 million in the reserve account, $6 million from annual set aside revenues, $7.5 million from increased turn back revenue, and $22.5 million currently available to provide the county’ s obligation to the project.
"Our number one priority is to maintain the roads and bridges in the unincorporated area," Villines said.
Villines said the county will continue to take care of the unincorporated areas and do more but there is still revenue available to help with the Broadway Bridge.
"We have two more bridge replacements scheduled in the next two years and we are increasing our overlay program this year," Villines said. "Pulaski County can make a difference."