There are four highway systems in the State of Iowa: the Iowa Department of Transportation is responsible for almost 10,000 miles of primary roads including interstates; the Cities of Iowa are responsible for 13,000 miles of streets and alleys; the State Parks are responsible for almost 500 miles of road; and the counties are responsible for almost 88,000 miles of roadway.
The responsibilities and skills of the County Engineers should reflect the needs, activities and overall objectives set for the counties by the County Board of Supervisors.
The County Engineer is responsible for all maintenance, repair, widening, resurfacing, reconstruction of pavements and bridges on the county highway system. This includes traffic control, safety, mowing and snow removal.
In some cases, the County Engineer's responsibility also involves road access and oversize vehicles.
The County Engineer must prepare an annual budget and five year program that identifies how the county will be spending its funding on the county roads. The County Engineer must submit these documents to the Board of Supervisors for approval.
The prime source of revenue are property tax from the Rural Levy and Road Use Tax. Some counties also receive revenue from the General Levy and Local Option Sales Tax.
The Road Use Tax, which is basically the portion of the fuel tax earmarked for highway purposes is levied at the State and Federal level. These monies are then distributed for use on State, County, City or Park highway systems by statutory formulas.
County Engineers are pressed to find other sources of funds. Some of these funds are Federal bridge replacement monies, Revitalize Iowa Sound Economy (RISE) grants, miscellaneous grants and permit fees.
These funds can only be spent on the County system unless the Board of Supervisors has entered into an agreement with a city or the Iowa Department of Transportation.