County leaders prepared for state-level road department cuts

Graves County leaders say they’re prepared for $112.5 million in cuts to the state road department fund. Those cuts come from an executive order from Gov. Matt Bevin’s office.

Not all the money will be taken from local road departments. Of the $112 million, $62 million will be cut from local departments across Kentucky.

A spokesperson with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says they still have to work out the formula for how much is deducted from each department, but county leaders say they saw this change coming, and their budgets are prepared.

Graves County Judge Executive Jesse Perry says he saw the cuts coming down the road. "Now it’s showing up, and it will show up across the whole state," he says.

Perry says they’ve been making cuts and changes to the budget ever since. He says they’re conserve and only spend when it’s a need. Because of conservative spending, Perry says Graves County is prepared for the cuts even in the expensive winter months.

"We need to get through January, February, March," he says. "That’s a tough time on all road departments."

This all stems from Kentucky’s gas tax: the lower the gas price, the less you pay from taxes.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokesman Ryan Watts says these cuts may not last forever. But, Watts says both local and state projects could be put on hold.

"Basically, it’s balancing the books, make sure our numbers match up with our latest forecast," Watts says.

For Perry, when he sees his neighbors pocketing more from low gas prices, he says he’s happy to make cut-backs.

"The fact that gas being cheaper is not a good thing. It’s hard on me, but that’s what the folks have hired me to do," says Perry.

Perry says one way they’re going to spend more efficiently this winter is establishing routes for the road department. Perry’s divided the county into eight sections, and when inclement weather moves into the area, crews will already know the routes they have to treat.

Watts says the road department cuts do not include essential personnel or services.

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