Stephenson Road Bonds

By: Narina Crain
By: Narina Crain

Many farmers in Stephenson County are stuck. They have thousands of pounds of grain from this year's harvest... But many of the local roads can't withstand the weight of 80 thousand pound grain trucks.

"If you have to haul long distances, it makes it difficult because you have to find roads that you can stay legal on," Steve Fricke said.

That's why leaders of the Stephenson County highway department are asking voters to raise taxes. The county would sell 20 million dollars in bonds to fund reconstruction of most county roads.

"Any funds that get put into a public works project like this gets spent 4 to 7 times over in the local economy, as construction workers get paid they go out and buy more things which creates more work," Chris Isbell, the county engineer said.

Business owners and farmers wouldn't be the only people to benefit from road projects. Everyone who drives on county roads would benefit because the roads would be safer.

"The ruts especially when you get light rain or when it snows we're not able to get the ice and slush out of those wheel tracks and that's where people are driving and you have problems with hydroplaning when it rains," Isbell said.

Many farmers say the road projects aren't worth the cost to taxpayers.
"When you look at the long range out of pocket expense to cover just the majority of county roads, not all it's just too expensive of a referendum," Steve Fricke said.

Most farmers would have to pay at least 450 dollars a year to support the road projects.

The farmer we spoke to in this story is running for the Stephenson County board. One of his opponents, Rich Hofmaster, told 23 News there's a big enough tax burden already on property owners and they need to find other resources to fund road projects. The other candidate, Sal Detente could not be reached for comment.

Here's a breakdown of the cost to taxpayers: A 90 thousand dollar homeowner in Stephenson county would have to pay an extra 72 dollars in taxes per year. The average farmer would be charged 45 cents per acre... Farmers who own the most productive land would pay 96 cents per acre. That adds up to an average of $450 to $1,000 per year.

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