County: Renewal of 1-percent Sales Tax Is Needed For Public Roads

Lynne Oharah

The sales tax that is up for renewal on the November 3 General Election has been in place for 20 years, according to Bourbon County Commissioner Lynne Oharah.

“(It) is essential for the maintenance and improvement of the hard service road system in Bourbon County which is around 140 miles,” he said.

“Thirty-five percent of the Bourbon County Public Works Department budget comes from this sale tax revenue and (it) can only be used on hard service roads within the county,” Oharah said.


“The total (tax collected) is about $2 million for the county and all the cities in the county,” Oharah said.  “Our part is used for our hard surface road program, about $1,100,000 per year, for maintaining and improving our hard surface roads.”


The county gets one-half of the sales tax, the rest goes to the other cities in the county, he said.


Hard surface roads include mowing 280 miles of ditches at least three times a year; ice and snow removal and application of brim/chip application for better traction, pothole repair, maintaining easements which includes ditching, equipment updates, side trim of rights-of-way and replacing culverts into people’s property, he said.


“With a sales tax, everyone pays, which includes out-of-county residents that use our county road system,” Oharah said. “This responsibility to maintain and repair hard services roads in Bourbon County does not fall on to the property owner of Bourbon County.”


The Bourbon County Road Service Department has costs below the standard for the industry, he said.


“You get more roadwork for less cost,” Oharah said.


“Norm Bowers, who is a retired engineer and surveyor and teaches at the University of Kansas Transportation Center, did a study on Bourbon County asphalt program, a year or two ago, and indicated the average cost per ton for asphalt applied to hard service road in Bourbon County is $90 per ton and the average per ton in the open market for Bourbon County to hire a contractor is $180 per ton to apply the product to the hard service road,” he said.

Oharah said the following are county costs for roads.

  • $30,000 to $35,000 for 1-inch overlay per mile in Bourbon County.
  • $13,000 for chip and seal of hard service road per mile in Bourbon County.
  • $80,000 to $110,000 per mile for a 3-inch new road service per mile, which includes most of the prep work in Bourbon County.

“Bourbon County can produce chips for hard surface roads, snow and ice safety for about $4 dollars a ton which is under half the cost of retail,” Oharah said. “This is a huge saving to the Bourbon County citizens. Its over $10 in the marketplace.”

The sales tax will appear on the  Bourbon County November 3, 2020, as follows (taken from the county’s website):

Shall the following be adopted?

Shall Bourbon County, Kansas, levy (renew) a one percent countywide retailers’ sales tax to take effect on July 1, 2021, and expire on June 30, 2031, with the allocated shares pursuant to K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 12-192 to be used as follows: (1) to Bourbon County, for the purpose of maintenance and construction of hard surface roads, and (2) to each city located in Bourbon County, for the purpose of providing funding for public services?

To vote in favor of any question submitted upon the ballot, darken

the oval to the left of the word “YES”; to vote against it, darken

the oval to the left of the word “NO”.



5 thoughts on “County: Renewal of 1-percent Sales Tax Is Needed For Public Roads”

  1. Ive only been here since Jan 2020. The roads here are in bad repair. I have deep ditches that Ive had to pay to have mowed. The drainage pipes are old and narrow which causes them to plug up quicker. When it rains, it flows over the top of my driveway causing it now to sink in. This is not a new tax so why arent these things done?

  2. I left Bourbon County in 1970 and the roads were in fair shape. I came back between 1982-1984 and the roads were still in fair shape. When I came back in 2012 the roads were very bad. There has been no improvement in the roads since 2012 and the county has been getting over 1 million dollars for road improvement per year. I don’t know what they are doing with the money, but it is not repairing the roads. I will not be voting to continue the road sales tax.

  3. if I heard right, Susan said if this tax doesnt pass they may have to make cuts-a police officer and etc.
    we need our police officers.
    why not get rid of the economic director position?
    doesnt seem like we have seen much economic success.
    too many people at the city are paid way too much.
    start with cuts to their salaries-savings can be done- fix the parks, roads, sewer and city buildings with the money you already get.
    Ft Scott is a great town and has lots of great people-it just needs some TLC.

  4. I left Bourbon County in 1970 and the roads were in fair shape. I come back from 1982-1984 and the roads were still in fair shape. I came back in 2012 and the roads were bad. Since 2012 till now the roads have not been improved. They have been receiving over one million dollars a year for road improvement with no improvement. Why should we continue this tax? I don’t know what they are using the money for, but it has not been road improvement. I will vote against this tax.

    1. It is disheartening that this sales tax,(which at one time did not exist) and which is supposed to be only for hard road improvement and maintenance, has become a planned and essential part of the normal operating budget.
      At least that’s what it seems like to me. But, what do I know?

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