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ACHD Raises Pay, Cuts Projects

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While the Ada County Highway District is always searching for more funds for the county's roads, a few monetary decisions have raised eyebrows since the $88.7 million budget was approved on Aug. 22.

The public agency's revenue only increased by roughly $1.5 million since last year, causing a $17 million shortfall and forcing several major projects to be delayed, including a much-anticipated widening of Ten Mile Road from Franklin to Cherry Lane in Meridian and the widening of the Victory and Eagle road intersection.

At the same time, the ACHD commission gave itself a 10 percent raise, increasing wage expenditures for the commission from $162,500 last year to $180,500 this year.

While ACHD Spokesperson Robbie Johnson referred comment about the reason for the increase to the commissioners, she said pay increase amounts to a relatively small portion of the overall budget.

She said the four part-time commissioners now make $20,232 per year, while the commission chair takes home $24,288 per year.

The budget passed by a four-to-one vote, with Commissioner Sherry Huber voting against the action.

In all, the capital expenditures budget was decreased by more than $1 million, a figure ACHD attributes to increases in the cost of labor, maintenance and equipment. In response, the agency chose to prioritize projects, focusing on maintenance first, followed by rebuilding existing roads and finally, expanding roads.

The Ten Mile Road project falls into this bottom priority. Johnson said the $9 million project was fast-tracked to the 2008 budget last year, but commissioners feel that delaying it until 2009 will not hamper completion of a Ten Mile interchange on Interstate 84, planned by the Idaho Transportation Department.

Johnson said roughly half the budget ($47 million) has been earmarked for capital improvement projects.

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