By Linda Kor
Officials with Navajo County were very pleased by an announcement by Governor Doug Ducey last month that he would stop taking $30 million in HURF (Highway User Revenue Funds) from Arizona counties and cities to balance the state’s budget.
For nearly 10 years the state has been taking from the coffers that should have been used to maintain and upgrade Arizona roads. In his statement Ducey said, “This will demonstrate good faith from our administration and a desire to work as partners for the good of our counties and for the good of our mutual citizens.”
The floss of funding each year has had a significant impact on rural counties who are tasked with providing safe roads for travel. The state swept those funds ever since the Great Recession in order to funnel those funds to operate the Department of Public Safety. But the state is finally experiencing an economic improvement this past year, with new figures showing that unemployment is a 4.7 percent, the lowest since the recession hit.
According to Navajo County Assistant Manager Bryan Layton, Navajo County received a one-time restoration of $328,982 in September, allowing Public Works to increase the miles of overlayed roads. If HURF funds are restored in 2018, the county would be able to see a similar increase.
Layton added, “The funding will also allow us to increase vehicle and heavy equipment budgets to help replace heavy equipment in use since the 1980’s, and vehicles on the road since the 1990s. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find parts for these vehicles, and a full restoration of the HURF funds would allow the county to address these concerns.”