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Better Know Your Ballot: Prop 5 Looks to Reduce Big Costs for Little County Roads

KUT News
Proposition 5 would raise the population cap associated with road funding in small counties.

Constitutional elections in Texas don't draw many voters. Over the last three elections, no more than 8 percent of registered voters have gone to the polls, and typically, it’s propositions like this cycle's Proposition 5, a statewide vote on constitutionally mandated population limits for road funding, that might keep people away.

The state constitution currently allows counties with 5,000 residents or fewer to construct and maintain private roads. Prop 5 raises that population bar to 7,500. The need for the original amendment? Well, counties that small usually don't have a private contractor who can be hired by a private landowner to do road work. That's why the county steps in. Lubbock State Rep. Charles Perry says the adjustment of that population cap is necessary to some small counties.

“One community in my district, the addition of a prison has pushed them over the 5,000-person population threshold,” Perry said.

So because of one county, a county with about 6,400 residents, the entire state is voting on a constitutional amendment. But for that county, Garza County, it's very important. Lee Norman is the county judge there.

“There's just a need there to help the rancher and the farmer,” Norman says. “We may clean out culverts. We may clean out cattle guards. Haul rock, so it's a relatively small issue.”

If passed, 20 additional counties will be able to take advantage of this provision. 

Ben Philpott is the Managing Editor for KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @BenPhilpottKUT.
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