For about a decade, Mohave County’s Highway User Revenue Fund was swept by state legislators in an effort to recover from the recession. Until now, county roads have paid the price – but one Mohave County supervisor hopes to change that.
According to Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson, about $7.3 million in Mohave County’s designated Highway User Revenue funding was allocated to other state departments. Now Johnson and other supervisors could call upon the state to see that funding restored.
According to county records, Mohave County would require $18.4 million per year to maintain the county’s road system, and $24.3 million would be needed for complete road maintenance and operation services. About 36% of the county’s road system requires chip sealing, and according to Johnson, the county has experienced a $6.8 million shortfall in paved road maintenance.
The Arizona legislature this year announced the state would have a $1 billion surplus in the 2021 budgetary session, in addition to the state’s $1 billion “rainy day” fund. For all of Arizona’s 15 counties combined, the cost of restoring state-promised HURF funding would be about $143 million, according to Johnson.
“We’ve requested this before, and we’re hoping for a positive outcome,” Johnson said Friday. “But we want to remind the state that when times were tough, they took money from the counties. Now that times are flush, they should restore the money counties lost, rather than putting that money into new projects.”
HURF funding is generated statewide by fuel taxes, with each county receiving an allocation of that funding via a state-generated formula. The topic of restoring that funding was addressed this month in a meeting of the legislature’s transportation committee, where lawmakers heard from witnesses throughout Arizona on the deteriorating state of county roads.
“We want them to continue giving us our fair share,” Johnson said. “We went through the bad times without that funding … it would be nice if they give back the money that was taken from the counties.”
Arizona Sen. Sonny Borrelli, of Havasu, shared the county’s desire for restored HURF funding on Friday.
“It’s a fantastic idea,” Borrelli said. “That funding should be restored. Highway 95 in Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City is in dire need of repair. I complain about it, and I’m pushing for more rural funding in Arizona. So do (Representatives Leo Biasiucci and Regina Cobb, also of Havasu).”
The Mohave County Board of Supervisors will vote on whether to submit its request for restored HURF funding at its meeting next Tuesday in Kingman.