Davison County officials study options for road moneyCommissioners will decide whether to use state money for projects, or to save it, as federal highway funds dry up.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
A short-handed Davison County Commission opened discussions Tuesday at the courthouse in Mitchell on county highway needs for 2012.
Highway Superintendent Rusty Weinberg said the county will probably have $120,000 to $123,000 in State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) money available.
He said the commissioners have the option of banking those funds and saving them to pay for bridge replacement and other infrastructure projects, or using them for immediate road repairs.
“The money may not be there in a few years,” Weinberg said, commenting on the drying up of federal highway dollars and state aid.
Commissioners John Claggett, Dave Weitala and Jerry Fischer said the best option might be to use the money while they have it, on upcoming road projects. They said the matter must be discussed further when the entire board is present.
Commissioners Denny Kiner and Gerald Weiss were absent Tuesday because they were attending an Association of Rural Water Boards meeting in Pierre.
A major project on the county list is the repaving of nine miles of Betts Road in the coming years. The road has deteriorated badly and will cost about $140,000 to $150,000 a mile to re-pave.
Weitala agreed the number of deteriorating bridges will eventually hit the county hard, but it must do what it can in all areas with the dollars it has at its disposal. The mounting demand for infrastructure dollars nationwide can’t be ignored, he said.
“I really think people will start demanding more infrastructure help from Congress,” he said.
In other business, the commissioners:
* Amended, at the request of Commissioner John Claggett, last week’s committee list and added a “Technology Committee” to evaluate and address county technology needs, with appointees including Claggett, Kathy Goetsch, Deb Young, and Dan Sudrla.
* Signed, at the request of Jail Administrator Don Radel, contracts with eight counties that use the Davison County Jail. The new contracts raise the daily rate for housing prisoners from $65 a day to $75 a day.
Those counties are Aurora, Douglas, Hutchinson, McCook, Lake, Hanson, Miner and Sanborn.
* Authorized, at the request of Weinberg, advertising for an administrative assistant position at the Highway Department to replace Paula Larson, who will leave this week for another position, at $11 an hour with a raise of 50 cents per hour after a six-month probationary period.
* Heard from Weinberg that the warmer temperatures and lack of snow have cut down fuel usage.
“We’re still on our first truckload,” he said. Weinberg said dry weather has allowed county crews to locate and repair a 12-inch county drain line in a field northwest of Loomis.
* Heard a brief report on indigent health care costs from interim Welfare Director Dawn Grissom, who said the county will close the books on 2009 bills next week with final payments totaling $37,315.65 to area hospitals.