County shouldn’t grade private roads

Published 6:53 am Friday, October 12, 2012

During Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Commissioners, several commissioners questioned whether the county should grade citizens’ privately-owned dirt roads and driveways, for a fee.

Commissioner Oliver Sellers said that Gadsden County, Fla., offers this service, charging citizens $50-per-hour. Several commissioners noted that there are private contractors who do motor-grading services, but they usually ask for a minimum of three hours of work, and grading a small dirt road would only take about 30 to 45 minutes.

While this sounds like a good program in theory, and could even bring some revenue to the county, we are opposed to the idea for several reasons. First, in our current economic climate, the county shouldn’t be in the business of grading roads when there are already private firms that do this. Second, the county already has seven vacancies in its public works department, and that department is already over-worked just trying to keep up with the county’s vast public roads system. Third, using county equipment on privately-owned land could open up the county to liability if that heavy equipment damages private property or land. We understand that a citizen would have to sign a “hold harmless” close to waive these damages, but that would only be for that citizen’s property, and not necessarily for his or her neighbors’.

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It’s one of those ideas that sounds great in theory, but in practicality would end up being more trouble than it’s worth. For these reasons, we oppose the idea.