With little money for for massive road repairs, Knott Co. officials declare state of emergency

Published: Feb. 19, 2019 at 9:55 PM EST
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As the partial county government shutdown continues in Knott County, new financial issues are surfacing.

As of now, the Knott County Road Department only has about $35,000 in its account.

The problem is that over the past week, the county has seen more than $150,000 in damages to county roads because of severe weather.

That led to a declaration of a state of emergency in the county last Wednesday.

It could also bring new taxes to people in Knott County to help pay for repairs, especially with more rain in the forecast this week.

One of the hardest hit roads is Calf Hollow. More than half of the road has broken off and crumbled down the hill. It is one of about eight county roads hit hard by breaks and slides.

"The hardest thing is you have folks that live in this holler here, they can get up to here and can't go beyond this flag. And it's a safety issue", said Knott County Judge-Executive Jeff Dobson. "They can't drive over this road. And they're having to walk to their home."

Calf Hollow is the only road that is impassable. Others have been temporarily fixed. The issues come from the price tag on all the road repairs.

"He did three project estimates that totaled over $150,000", said Dobson as he talked about contractor estimates.

Dobson says the county has money coming in from FEMA, but that money must be paid out for projects in previous years that still have outstanding balances.

"We've cut everything that we possibly could cut to try to save every dollar we can. We're just in such a deep rut that this is kind of where we're at", said Dobson.

At the Knott County Fiscal Court meeting Tuesday evening, two new taxes were proposed; a 2% occupational tax and a 4% insurance tax. Officials say the insurance tax is half of what it was in previous years and would raise about $600,000 a year.

"Just enough to pay the bills and pray that nothing else happens", said Dobson.

That money would help pay for road repairs, bond payments for the Knott County Sportsplex, and it would also bring back health insurance for county employees. That's something officials with the road department say they and their staff would be thankful for.

"One thing I can say about our small staff is they've all held their heads up and we've moved forward", said Ricky McDaniel, who is the County Road Supervisor. "I've not had any complaints. They're interested in the community and that's what we're for."

Officials with the Knott County Road Department say they will be on standby as rain potentially causes more issues in the area this week.

With the state of emergency being declared, county officials hope they will receive aid from the state to make necessary repairs.