High fuel costs put end to chemical road treatments

Moffat County won't treat dirt roads next year with a chemical that helps keep them intact.

During a budget workshop Wednesday, Moffat County Road and Bridge officials and county commissioners decided to cut the magnesium chloride program in 2006.

Road and Bridge Director Bill Mack and the commissioners said the chemical is important for maintaining county roads, but rising fuel costs mean the department has to cut expenses.

Magnesium chloride is supposed to keep down dust, keep snow from sticking to the road and keep the road from crumbling.

Road and Bridge's 2006 budget will be about the same as it was in 2005, about $4.8 million.

But fuel costs for the department's fleet of trucks will jump to $500,000 from $250,000 next year.

Cutting the $219,000 the department spent on magnesium chloride treatments last year will help offset fuel costs, Mack said.

The other $30,000 will come from decreased plowing and grading of some roads, which commissioners and Mack said would result in complaints from the public.

"We are going to take a lot of heat from it," Mack said.

But when voters last week rejected Referendum 1A, which would have increased county revenue, they sent a clear message that they want the county to cut some services, Commissioner Saed Tayyara said.

"We were told by the public to hold back, and this is what we are doing," Tayyara said.

Commissioners on Wed--nes--day also discussed the budget for the Moffat County landfill, which is overseen by the Road and Bridge Department.

Commissioners didn't set the landfill budget, but they expect to have the county's budget nearly finalized before they meet Tuesday.

Commissioners are meeting with department leaders this week and early next week to finalize the budget for next year.

Most county departments will cut their budgets by 5 percent to offset rising energy costs and pay for new equipment that the county has put off purchasing in recent years.

The new equipment includes vehicles for the Sheriff's Office, Road and Bridge Department and Pest Management Dep--artment.

Commissioners must adopt a final budget by Dec. 13.

Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or bjohansson@craigdailypress.com.

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