Carroll County's commissioners focused their March 9 meeting on County Engineer Brian Wise's annual report of activities at his office during 2016.
Wise reported about his office's annual revenue; projects involving road, bridge and culvert maintenance; current conditions of roads, bridges and culverts; equipment; and resources used for 2016 projects.
Detailed discussion took place about the engineer's budget, which relies heavily on gasoline tax and license plate fees.
According to information in Wise's report, $3.65 million of the county engineer's total $3.9 million budget comes from state fuel tax and license plate fees with $2.38 million alone coming from fuel taxes.
However, Wise said, state legislators have not adjusted the fuel tax to keep up with inflation since 2005. Meanwhile, the consumer price index has increased by 27 percent in that time, and the construction cost index has risen by 38 percent. The result, Wise stated, is that his office's budget has 62 percent of the buying power it had twelve years ago.
That means if the county paid $100,000 to pave two miles of road in 2008, it now can pave fewer than 1.25 miles of road for the same price.
"We all have a duty to maintain and repair things, and when you can do only so much a year, you need your limits adjusted so that you can do what you used to do," he stated.
Wise added that vehicles using compressed natural gas or electricity as fuel are not yet required to pay fuel tax even though they contribute to roadway damage.
Ohio's newest transportation bill, House Bill 26, originally proposed adding a fuel tax for CNG and electric vehicles; however, that language was struck from the bill before the House of Representatives passed it on March 1.
Wise noted that counties are permitted to increase license plate fees, in increments of $5, up to a maximum $20, but the move has been unpopular in many areas. Ohio law currently requires voters to pass a ballot measure allowing an increase in fees, said Wise.
In response to rising costs, Wise develops budgets for many projects with an eye to keeping costs below the state's threshold of $100,000, which he said allows engineer's office employees to provide the labor.
"The fact that we can do that in-house with our own men saves us money. Otherwise we'd have to bid those projects out," he explained.
Sharing equipment with other counties, including Stark, and leasing equipment has also helped the county engineer's office save costs. Wise said one example is an asphalt recycler that he leased last year. The recycler mixes heavy limestone chips into old asphalt, which Wise said rejuvenates older roads without requiring expensive resurfacing materials.
Wise also outlined capital improvements for this year, which include paving projects for Antigua Road (County Road 11), Arbor (C.R. 14), Aurora (C.R. 18), Citrus (C.R. 68) and Coral (C.R. 81). The roads were scheduled to be paved in 2016, but Wise said the projects were postponed as winter weather approached.
Bridges that will receive work this year are located at Aster Road (C.R. 17), Bedrock (C.R. 29), Picador (Township Road 364) and Snow (T.R. 617).
The engineer's office also plans to work on culverts at Antigua Road, Bay (C.R. 27) and Chase (C.R. 66).
Wise noted that the Aster and Picador bridges will be bid out based on estimated project costs, but county employees will perform all of the work on the Bedrock and Snow bridges as well as on all three culverts.
The county engineer's office maintains 307 miles of road and 143 bridges each year.
A copy of the complete annual report is available from the county engineer's office.
In other business at meetings of March 9 and 13, the board:
HEARD Board President Jeff Ohler report that the county has completed paying its bills for the former Atwood Lake Resort.
DISCUSSED the possibility of holding one public session of the board of commissioners in the evening every three months. The board said it was considering scheduling the evening meetings with a goal of making public session more accessible to citizens who work during the day.
APPROVED a contract of $1,830 with Damon Industries Inc., of Alliance, for water treatment services for the courthouse boilers and loop system from April 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018.
HEARD the County Dog Pound report for March 5 11: nine dogs impounded, nine adopted, eight redeemed, none euthanized and no citations.
APPROVED a resolution confirming receipt of a petition from the Village of Carrollton to annex 17 acres comprising Centerville in Union Township.
RESCHEDULED a public hearing for the Community Housing Impact and Preservation and Community Development Black Grant programs until Monday, March 20.
HELD an executive session about current negotiations to develop a new contract between the Fraternal Order of Police and the county sheriff's department. Board Vice President Robert Wirkner stated that the purpose of the session was for him to discuss with the board a meeting he and County Sheriff Dale Williams already held with FOP representatives. No action was anticipated to be taken at the executive session.