By Sam Kaufman, Andrews County News
Andrews County’s initial allocation from a state road grant for energy development areas was the most of any county in Texas, as the Andrews County Commissioners Court learned at a December 2013 Commissioners Court meeting.
The county’s top positioning on the state’s totem pole didn’t come as a surprise to Andrews County Judge Richard H. Dolgener, who felt the lead beneficiary status was due to heavy oil and gas production that impacts roads in Andrews.
“We’re the oil county in the state,” Dolgener said of Andrews County, which routinely ranks among the top oil producers in Texas.
That notion was supported by a formula the state used to derive monetary allocations for distributing $225 million to counties over the current biennium through the County Transportation Infrastructure Fund Grant Program approved during the last legislative session.
The formula was based on oil and gas production taxes, well completions, weight tolerance permits, and volume of oil and gas waste injected. The grant program is being administered by the Texas Department of Transportation.
Andrews County’s initial estimated allocation of $8.7 million in grant funding was easily the highest amount of all 254 counties. No other county eclipsed the $8 million mark, while neighboring Ector County netted the second highest estimated allocation of $7.1 million, and Martin County ranked fourth at approximately $6.6 million.
The Commissioners Court said the goal now is to capitalize on the grant, which requires a 20 percent county match. A second allocation based on remaining funding from counties that choose not to participate could push Andrews County’s total allocation to more than $11 million, county officials theorized.
Coupled with the match, the county could conceivably net more than $13 million in road work at 20 percent cost, said a representative from a grant management firm desiring to assist the county in the grant process.
A public hearing regarding a transportation reinvestment zone required in the grant process was staged in December and included one county resident who has property within the proposed zone; the resident posed questions on possible impact, and was assured his county taxes wouldn’t increase with a zone approval.
The reinvestment zone provides the county dedicated funds for matching and administration costs through property taxes derived from increased valuation within the zone. Potential funds accrued through the zone would go toward road work included in the zone.
For detailed information on the estimated allocation by county, view our digital edition by clicking the cover image in the sidebar.