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February 11, 2014

Vigo Commissioners seek fund for road repair

TERRE HAUTE — In an effort to earmark money from a state fuel tax and sales tax, the Vigo County Board of Commissioners plans to seek the creation of a new non-reverting fund for money targeted for county road repairs and maintenance.

Commissioners have submitted a request for $1.5 million for road repairs this year. That request has been assigned to the special projects committee of the Vigo County Council for review. It could then go before the full council in March.

Commissioners Judith Anderson, Mike Ciolli and Brad Anderson each said they are concerned that about $300,000 of state funding from late 2013 was used for the county highway department’s 2014 operating fund balance, instead of being used for funding above the county’s budgeted road maintenance.

Last year, the Indiana General Assembly diverted 1 percent of the state sales tax into a fund for local roads, streets and bridges, as well as placing a retirement pension plan for Indiana State Police back into the state’s general fund, said state Sen. Tim Skinner, D-Terre Haute.

The moving of the pension plan returned some motor fuel tax funds to Indiana counties, Skinner said.

“I think I need to personally go back and look at the legislation to see if it needs to be tightened up with language to state that this money was specifically for road, streets and bridges. I hate to tie up local governments up like that, but I know the intent of the money was for roads, streets and bridges,” Skinner said.

Skinner said the funding for roads will be reviewed by the Indiana General Assembly in two years.

Ryan Oilar, administrator for the Vigo County Council, said commissioners did not account for the projected state revenue in their 2014 budget request.

“Commissioners did not include that as potential revenue, so when the council looked at the balance sheet when forming a budget, that was not there,” Oilar said.

The $300,000 in state funding was placed into the highway’s operating balance as a cushion for an 18-month budget, Oilar said. Those funds can be appropriated for road repair this year, if approved by the County Council.

Commissioners expect to receive $600,000 to $700,000 in state revenue for road maintenance this year. The request from commissioners for $1.5 million for road repairs includes the $300,000 from last year, plus the expected state revenue. Commissioners said road funding is needed, as its 2014 budget is lower than its 2013 budget.

The County Council, however, spanning 2011 and 2012, approved a total of $2.5 million from the county’s rainy day fund for road repair.

Commissioners have a plan for road repair that would cost about $3 million. Some roads targeted are Oregon Church Road from Carlisle east to Indiana 159; Louisville Road from about Woodsmall Road south to Oregon Church Road; Harlan Road from about Collie Road east to Bush Street; Durkees Ferry Road from Pottsville Street west to about Hutcheson Road; Maple Avenue from Hunt Street east to U.S. 40; Harrison Avenue from Hunt Street east to Main Street in Seelyville; and State Line Road from near Interstate 70 north to Old Paris Road in western Vigo County.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.

 

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