Tax money is gone with the rain

I have lived in Clay County more than nine years and during that entire time have seen tax dollars literally being washed away every time it rains.

The county Public Works Department is responsible for maintaining and repairing the county’s more than 200 miles of dirt roads.

Reviewing the 2021-22 fiscal year budget, Eye on Jacksonville found the department was allocated $6,925,550 to maintain and repair county roadways, drainage and ditches.

The Engineering Department is responsible for designing the plans to pave a dirt road and ranks these roads based on ten criteria. The department is given an annual budget of $500,000 to use for paving projects.

Richard Smith, county engineering director, told Eye that, considering the number of roads yet to be paved and his department’s annual budget, “At this rate we will have the roads completed in 200 years.”

Smith said residents on a street can create a petition to request paving. The more signatures it has the more effective it will be.

Yucca Street in Middleburg is one of the roads the Engineering Department has listed for paving, at a cost of $1,090,000. It is a dirt road.

In the last nine years Yucca has been graded a minimum of 117 times. It has had dump-truck loads upon dump-truck loads of sand brought in to repair the extensive erosion.

Two residents on this street have had severe erosion at the entrance to their driveways, a ditch almost a foot deep, more than once.

A section of road washed away creating a ditch in the road became nearly impassable. The county used a type of tar/gravel for the repair. This repair still washes out after a heavy rain, but not as severely.

Several residents along this road have watched the sand from the road wash into their yards.

The sand also washes into the ditches and prevents drainage. When this happens, the county must use heavy equipment to clean out the ditches.

Observing all the resources that have been expended, Eye can’t help but question the decades of tax dollars this repetitious repair has cost the citizens of Clay County.

Jacksonville has 3,757 miles of roads and only four are not paved. It learned beginning in the 1980s that paving the many miles of unpaved roads that existed before then would save money in the long run, and also improve the city’s appearance.

Debbie Gonzalez

Researcher and Writer Debbie a native of New York became a resident of Jacksonville via the U.S. Navy. After separating from the navy she worked for both Grumman Aerospace and later Northrup-Grumman Aerospace. After almost 20 years in the aviation industry, she went back to college to change professions. Going back to school as an adult that had lived all over the United States and abroad she had experience in culture and circumstance, which created an incongruity with the material being taught. At that point she began questioning the validity of the material and made the observation that to pass her courses she had to agree, at least on paper, with the material. She graduated about the same time as the Wall Street crash of 2008 and jobs were now difficult to find. So, with time on her hand she began to look into other areas to see if the incongruity existed outside of the college curriculum as well. This is where her mission for the truth began. Since then she has worked to get facts out to the public.


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