The Washington County commissioners plan to develop a committee and guidelines for allocating money from a special projects fund set aside for townships.
At the start of the year, commissioners approved dedicating 24 percent of the revenue from the 1 percent permissive sales tax to township roads and bridges, up from 15 percent in recent years. There was $300,000 set aside for special projects and emergencies, but no specifics were established on how that money would be distributed. Those discussions were part of the current year's budget process that took place before current Commissioners Ron Feathers and David White took office.
A request Thursday from Warren Township Trustee Jeffrey Knowlton for funding to assist in repairing a slip on Bender Road prompted the commissioners to revisit the issue.
"This actually just forces us to form that committee, which is not a bad thing at all," White said.
Commissioner Tim Irvine said the original intent was to have a group consisting of a commissioner, the head of the township trustees association, another trustee appointed by the commission and the county engineer review requests and decide whether to fund them. Engineer Roger Wright suggested adding a fifth person to avoid the possibility of tie votes, and the commissioners voiced their agreement.
Knowlton said the portion of Bender Road in question was reinforced with piling about 30 years ago. But over time, the large wooden posts driven into the hillside have shifted six to eight feet over the hill and the guardrail and cables have loosened.
A local contractor estimated it would cost about $15,000 to repair, Knowlton said.
"If it goes over the hill, takes it all out, which it could, we're talking about a considerable more amount of money," he said.
Knowlton said the township could afford the fix now, but they already spent more than $70,000 on unexpected expenses last year, with a little more than half going to repair slips. They also received nearly $56,000 in state funds and more than $78,000 in Federal Emergency Management Agency money for those projects.
"We could do it. It would just take money away from the rest of the roads," Knowlton said.
Wright said it's not a matter of if the slip gets worse but when. He and the commissioners seemed willing to help with the project but wanted to get the committee structure in place first.
"Would you guys be willing to go forward with the fix and get reimbursed?" Wright asked Knowlton.
"I would not have a problem with it," the trustee answered. "I have two other trustees I've got to talk to."
Feathers agreed with Wright's suggestion.
"If we can get this committee formed, I don't see why there couldn't be a discussion and even a decision by the end of ... April," he said.