As of Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Idaho County voters head to the polls on Nov. 8 to elect national, state and local officials. And aside from voicing opinions over its leadership, voters are being asked to determine the future of two local highway districts.
Included on the November ballot for Idaho County is a question regarding the consolidation of Good Roads Highway District No. 2 and Union Independent Highway District. Idaho County Commissioners are proposing a single consolidated highway district to be known as Union Independent Highway District.
Joe Forsmann, Cottonwood clerk of the Union district, said the districts began discussions on the process in December of 2015. Petitions were presented to the Idaho County Commission and discussed in public meetings and hearings.
County commissioners filed the intent for consolidation following Chapter 15, Title 40, of Idaho law. The ballot question will read: “Shall Good Roads Highway District No. 2 and Union Independent Highway District be consolidated into a single highway district.”
Forsmann attributed the necessity for the consolidation to the size and number of voters in the Good Roads district. He noted there are only 18 registered voters in the district.
“A part of that [decision] was to help Good Roads out because they had fewer people interested in serving,” he said. “This … allows Union to better utilize its personnel and we have an established staff to provide services [Good Roads] weren’t able to get before.”
Good Roads Clerk, John Suhr of Grangeville, said last year one of the district’s commissioners moved away and they were unable to fill the position. This left the district down to two out of three commissioners required.
Good Roads is located in Township 31 North and a portion of Township 32 North, essentially located north and east of Grangeville. Suhr said it covers 15.2 rural miles of road.
Market value of the land in Good Roads is $7,756,173.24 and has no bonded debts or highway tax levy for the past year. Current warrant for the district is $1,500.
Union Independent is located in Township 31 North and some sections in Township 32 North, directly parallel to the west of Good Roads. It covers 52 miles of road way, Forsmann said.
Market value of the land is $20,857,695.60. The district has no bonded debts and no highway tax levy. Current warrant for the district is $8,796.38.
If approved by voters, the two districts would be consolidated by the county commission. At that time, the new Union Independent Highway District and its three commissioners would begin the process of redrawing the three sub-district boundary lines.
“There will be some work and some research involved,” Forsmann said.
Aside from the boundary re-evaluation, Forsmann doesn’t anticipate too many negative repercussions financially from the consolidation, even in light of the loss of Secure Rural Schools (SRS) funding. In 2015 the federal program, which had provided $7.017 million for local infrastructure in 2014, was not reauthorized.
“It may provide a bit of a challenge with the SRS funding but we can utilize people in our area to assist with clearing roads in the need arises,” he said.