Mono County Director of Public Works Evan Nikirk completed a two-part presentation on the condition of Mono Countys roads and the issues that will face the Road Department in the years to come.
The countys Road Department oversees the summer maintenance, and winter snow removal on all county roads. There are 5 road districts within the county. Crowley, Benton, Lee Vining, Bridgeport and Walker, all of whom have 3 full time personnel.
Nikirk explained that imminent regulations of diesel emissions will force the county to either replace, repower with new engines, or retrofit eligible existing engines on the great majority of its fleet of heavy equipment.
Despite concessions to rural counties and the exemption of snow blowers (at $500k each), the cost of the equipment replacement could approach $10 million, and will need to be completed by 2025.
Nikirk framed his discussion within the context of decreasing state road funding, which has proven unreliable during state budget woes. As state funding has stagnated, county costs have risen dramatically. Nikirk revealed that a recent Schwarzenegger proposal to withhold highway tax funding could cost Mono County as much as $600kover 15% of the current road fund budget.
Nikirk predicted a flattening of revenues for the road department in the years to come, and with the steady increase of salaries and operational costs, anticipated in 5 years a shortfall running over a million dollars annuallyand thats without the costs associated with equipment replacement.
The Supervisors have been reluctant to use general fund dollars to fund the road department because they do not want to subsidize what has traditionally been the financial responsibility of state-imposed taxes. Unfortunately, considering the massive investments becoming necessary, it appears likely that the repercussions of such a position could start to find its way from the chambers to the county asphaltif it hasnt already.