By Lasca Randels
WARSAW — Kosciusko County Highway Superintendent Steve Moriarty asked county commissioners to sign a letter of support for Indiana Senate Bill 207, which reduces the required percentage amount of highway account distributions for construction, reconstruction and preservation of highways from 50 percent to 40 percent.
Moriarty made the request during the commissioners’ regular meeting Tuesday, March 2.
The change would provide county highway departments more flexibility in spending their money.
The letter addresses the financial burden placed on the county and the highway department due to restrictions placed by Section 63 of IC 8-14-1-4. The Indiana Code designates that 50 percent of MVH (motor vehicle highway) revenues be deposited into the MVH Restricted Fund and the other 50 percent deposited into the MVH Unrestricted Fund.
The allowable uses of the Restricted Fund are preservation, construction and reconstruction of roadways. The allowable uses of the Unrestricted Fund are maintenance and operation, which includes cutting trees, plowing snow, patching holes, drainage, signs, paint striping, grading gravel roads, berming, payroll and utilities.
Those restrictions have created an excess of cash in the Restricted Fund and a shortfall in the Unrestricted Fund. Kosciusko County Council approved an additional appropriation in the General Fund for highway use, but this, in turn, has created a financial hardship for the county.
Moriarty said the letter will show the county’s support for changing the 50-50 requirement to 60-40 and include winter maintenance into the Restricted Fund, which would help county highway departments to be able to support that funding on their own.
“I think it’s a big step in the right direction. It might not be the complete solution, but it is a way to go in the right direction,” Moriarty said. “It’ll help us in the long term.”
Commissioners approved the request.
Copies of the letter will be sent to Reps. Curt Nisly and Craig Snow.
Moriarty also asked commissioners to set a bid date for the replacement of small structure 651 on County Farm Road, north of CR 450S. The structure spans less than 20 feet, putting it in the small structure category. Bids will be opened on March 30.
Moriarty also received approval for an unofficial detour route. INDOT will be replacing a bridge on SR 13, just south of SR 14. The official detour route will be CR 1200S to CR 400E.
Kosciusko County has been awarded a federal fund match for Husky Trail Bridge 9, Moriarty told commissioners.
“This is to connect what the city has done with the Husky Trail Project,” Moriarty said.
Commissioner Vice President Cary Groninger said the project was bid twice previously and both times came in way over budget.
“We revised our design a little bit and were able to come back and pretty much end up saving the county a million and a half to two million dollars,” Groninger said.
Bids for a community crossing 2022 matching grant were opened at today’s meeting. Moriarty said this involves the following roads: CR 1050N, CR 300E, CR 325E, CR 200W and CR 700S.
Bids for the five roads were submitted by Phend & Brown, Leesburg, in the total amount of $785,234.70, and Niblock, Bristol, in the total amount of $835,085.80 total. Moriarty will take the bids under advisement and return to the March 16 meeting with his recommendation.
In another matter, commissioners approved a 2021 CHIRP/SAVE grant request by Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Shane Bucher. SAVE is in reference to stop arm violation enforcement.
This grant, reimbursable through the federal government, is for $10,000 per year and allows law enforcement officers to patrol during school bus operation hours, following bus routes to try to prevent stop-arm violations.
“It’s been very successful in our county. I know our department alone has stopped numerous people with the department’s enforcement,” Bucher said.
County Administrator Marsha McSherry presented a bid from Custom Sound Designs for acoustic panels in the circuit and superior 1 courtrooms in the amount of $27,700.
A quote from Custom Fencing in reference to the five tower sites involved in the county radio communications project was also presented by McSherry. The amount is $6,035 per site, for a total of $30,175.
McSherry announced that March 1 was the start of the 2021 county wellness “Get WalkIN” program in cooperation with Purdue Extension.
County employees, elected officials and department heads may participate in the three-month walking program.
“Last year Kosciusko had the most steps in the State of Indiana in participation in this program,” McSherry said.
McSherry said there are initiatives for county employees to participate in the program.
A department head/elected officials meeting will be held March 4, McSherry said. Ted Westerhof from the Bowen Center will be speaking at the meeting.
In other news:
- Commissioners approved the 2021 senior prosecutor HUB grant request and corresponding grant cooperative agreement presented by Kosciusko County Prosecutor Dan Hampton.
- A cumulative capital development ordinance and a cumulative bridge ordinance presented by County Auditor Michelle Puckett were approved.
- A quarterly contract invoice and power of attorney for two vehicle titles were approved, both submitted on behalf of Kosciusko Area Bus Services.
- The next regular meeting will be 9 a.m. March 16.