Fulton County is considering conducting a study on how to do a more cost-effective and efficient job of maintaining the county's roads.
The Municipal Highway Maintenance Efficiency Study would examine how local governments are maintaining roads and determine whether there are opportunities to reduce the cost to local taxpayers through consolidation of highway departments or other means. We are certain those opportunities exist.
The study would require hiring a consultant to partner with the county and all local governments to provide an objective analysis of how county, town, city and village highway departments maintain their facilities, equipment and roads.
The county recently sought proposals to find out how much the study would cost. The lowest proposal came in at around $92,000. The county would seek a grant to cover the bulk of the study's cost. The local share could be 10 percent to 20 percent.
There are 725 miles of roads in the county. County Planning Director James Mraz said the estimated taxpayer cost to maintain those roads in 2009 was about $9 million, and we suspect that cost has grown.
The cost for this study would be a worthy investment, as long as local governments follow up on the study's results and actually take measures that save money.
The study likely would show ways the municipalities could share services, materials and equipment, and, in some cases, consolidate highway departments.
Some of the localities that have highway departments have small populations and roads that get little traffic. Consolidation seems like a viable option for some areas.
The study is part of the 2012 capital project proposal by the Buildings and Grounds/Highway Committee to the Capital Projects Committee. Municipal leaders throughout the county should embrace this idea, and county supervisors should move forward with the study process.