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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

Many groups help pave the way for Scott County's roads

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Scott County Highway Department employees fix a soft spot on County Road 405 Tuesday.
SIKESTON -- Knowing who to call for road repairs and which roads their tax dollars go toward is a source of confusion for many area residents, according to county officials.

Dennis Ziegenhorn, Scott County's first district associate county commissioner, said there are two other taxing entities for roads in unincorporated Scott County besides the county: the Illmo Special Road District near Scott City and the Sikeston Special Road District near Sikeston but outside the city limits.

"A lot of our roads consist of the Mini Farms, Heckemeyer Acres and Ridgeview subdivisions," said Terry Cole, who, along with Tom Marshall and Larry Tetley, was elected by voters within the Sikeston Special Road District to make decisions for the district.

"They really do a good job," Ziegenhorn said. "I think they're doing an excellent job with the roads they maintain."

"It is the smoothest running board I've ever worked on," Cole said. "We've got just about every road blacktopped now -- our roads are in good shape."

Cole said the Sikeston Special Road District has 50 miles of road to maintain. The Illmo Special Road District has about 30 miles while the county has nearly 350 miles of road to take care of, according to Norman Brant, Scott County highway department superintendent.

The tax rate for county roads is 29.93 cents per $100 assessed valuation.

"Sikeston Special pays 18 cents on the road district per $100 assessed valuation," Ziegenhorn said, "and the Illmo Special Road District tax is 30.96 cents."

Presiding Commissioner Jamie Burger said the county has hit a plateau for road and bridge revenue so it is now just covering repairs and maintenance.

"Last year the county road district generated $354,087 in taxes and the Illmo Special Road District brought in $142,814," Ziegenhorn said. "The Sikeston Special Road District brought in $317,132."

Burger said if voters approve continuing the law enforcement sales tax, it will free up some general revenue funds that can then be transferred to the road and bridge fund.

"One of the best economic development tools is improving our infrastructure," Burger said. He explained improving gravel roads to hard surface roads tends to increase construction in the nice subdivisions, "which then increases our tax base. It also increases our opportunities for businesses."

County road maintenance, which is directed by county commissioners, is done by the county highway department using only tax money generated from the county's unincorporated areas outside of the two special road districts.

"The problem we get into is people think Sikeston money goes up to take care of county roads and bridges and it does not," Ziegenhorn said. "Sikeston Special Road District money stays down here in our area. We don't pay into the county for their roads."

Some area residents also get confused about who is responsible for road maintenance because cities have their own roads, and the maintenance for state highways is the state's responsibility even when the highways pass through road districts or cities such as Highway 61 when it becomes Main Street in Sikeston.

The state also has roads other than major highways that it maintains.

"The easy way to distinguish between county roads and state roads is county roads are indicated by numbers and state roads are indicated by letters," Ziegenhorn said, adding that this applies only to state roads as U.S. highways maintained by the state are also numbered.

As it isn't feasible to assign taxes based on who uses roads, having residents pay for local roads "is definitely a fair and equitable way," Ziegenhorn said. "The system is as smooth as it can be."