Haywood commissioners balk at state plan for secondary roads

Counties usually have no choice but to accept unfunded mandates from the state, but this time, Haywood County commissioners are pushing back.

For the second time in recent years, legislation has been introduced in the state that would pass on the responsibility of maintaining secondary roads from the state to local level by 2011.

The Haywood board of commissioners already passed a resolution opposing such a transfer in May 2009, but the legislation has since been reintroduced.

They unanimously passed a similar resolution at a meeting last month, vowing to write a strongly worded letter to the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners, which has also opposed the measure in the past.

“We should make sure they get on board with us,” said Commissioner Skeeter Curtis at the meeting. “That’s our lobby group. We need to make certain they lobby very heavily against this bill.”

County Manager David Cotton pointed out that larger counties were in favor of the transfer since they have funding to take care of their own roads. But if the law is passed, it would be a detriment for rural counties like Haywood.

While Commissioner Bill Upton said he’d heard the measure would not be passed, he added that commissioners should not let their guard down.

“I think we need to watch this very closely,” said Upton.

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