2012-08-15 / Front Page

Road Maintenance Plan Leads To Wheel & Surtax Discussion

OCEMS To Purchase New Ambulance With Lifetime Box Warranty
by Michael Stanley
Staff Writer

Owen County Highway Department Superintendent Joe Pettijohn presented the sevenmember Owen County Council with a requested plan of action for repairing many of the county’s rural roadways Monday evening. While the council looked over the year-long plan to chip and seal approximately 10 miles of various roadway, it was quickly apparent to councilman Anton Neff that the county would be unable to fund the estimated $6.5 million in work needed to repair Pettijohn’s estimate of 250 miles of county roadway in the foreseeable future due to budget restraints.

Pettijohn’s budget for 2012 has allowed him to chip and seal nearly six miles of roadway so far this year, with three to four miles of work that can still be completed with the funds remaining in the budget.

The roadway repair plan of 10 miles of chip and seal work is estimated to cost $337,529.65, with $250,000 requested by Pettijohn from the council to help fund the repairs over the next year. Roads listed in Pettijohn’s plan included State Ferry, Pleasant View, Stogsdill, Cooper, Baseline, Otterbein Church and Keith.

Pettijohn said that with current budget limitations, his department can chip and seal repair approximately eight miles of roadway each year.

The 2013 budget for the highway department is estimated at just $1.7 million, a cut of $200,000 from 2012. The department will also receive Local Road & Street funding from wheel and surtaxes, plus state distributions. Wheel and surtaxes total $150,000 annually.

The council voted 7-0 to postpone discussion until budget hearings on August 30 and 31, but began a discussion regarding the current wheel and surtaxes taken in by the county.

Smaller vehicles in the county such as passenger cars, small pickup trucks (under 11,000 pounds) and motorcycles pay $12.50 each year in surtax, while larger vehicles such as large trucks, busses and semi-tractors pay $20 annually in wheel tax.

Crunching numbers, the council noted that by increasing the wheel and surtaxes to the maximum amount of $25 for surtax and $40 for wheel tax, the county would generate an additional $334,000 each year from the surtax alone. The increase from the wheel tax would bring in additional revenue totaling $138,000, increasing the total amount to $473,388, which is divided between the county, the Town of Spencer and the Town of Gosport. Owen County would receive $447,000. Both taxes have remained unchanged since being implemented by the county council in 1998. The county council has until January 1, 2013 to implement the new taxes, which would not begin being collected until 2014.

“I know nobody likes to increase taxes, including me, but if we want these things done, that’s what we will have to do,” councilwoman Irma Jean Franklin said. “We’ve got to raise more money.”

Neff noted that a recent report, the Low Hut Allocations Report, based on 2011 data, indicating how much money is involved in the local option wheel and surtaxes.

“Any one person never pays both a wheel and surtax. I have one vehicle, when I pay my registration, I pay $12.50 towards Owen County. It goes directly to the county, it’s dedicated to road materials, which are your chip and seal and blacktop projects,” Neff said. “No one likes new taxes, no one likes fees, and if everyone who asked for another $10 or $20 gets it, it starts to add up very quickly. A lot of people are complaining, but I’ve found that when you explain it and people begin to understand that it’s dedicated to a certain thing and can only be used for that purpose, they are more than happy to pay another $1 a month if it means additional roads being taken care of and maintained.”

The council also voted 7-0 to postpone a request from the Owen County Clerk’s Office.

Hearing from Owen County Emergency Medical Service Director Cris Lunsford, the council debated a request for an additional appropriation of $27,789 to be added to an already budgeted $90,000 for the purchase of a new ambulance.

The EMS fleet currently includes four ambulance trucks, three of which have more than 100,000 miles on the engine. Trucks were either purchased or remounted in both 2010 and 2011. Lunsford said most trucks are rotated out at around 150,000 miles.

The truck being sought is a Demers Mystere with a G4500 chassis made in Canada. Lunsford noted that the truck has many additional safety features which come standard. The truck’s patient module box comes with a lifetime structural warranty.

The council voted 7-0 to advertise the appropriation of $27,789 from the EMS cash balance to pay for the new ambulance. Lunsford said he anticipates the 2013 vehicle rotation to include the remount of the ambulance box from a new ambulance purchased in 2007. The cost is estimated at $95,000.

Members of the council next heard from Owen County Chamber of Commerce & Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Denise Shaw, who provided an update on the ongoing project to extend sewer service lines from Spencer to the State Road 43 corridor. Shaw said that with initial archeological surveys completed, the need has arisen for additional surveys and an environmental review of the sewer route as a portion of the route is in a flood plain. She said the Owen County Redevelopment Commission would likely not meet the deadline to apply for USDA funding later this month, as the surveys and study need to be submitted with the application.

In matters related to the ongoing Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility improvement project at the county courthouse, the council voted 7-0 to pay a total of $11,950 in invoices. A total of $4,800 was paid to Southern Indiana Development Commission, while the additional $7,150 was paid to 3-D Construction.

Looking over a non-binding review of budgets submitted by the 13 townships in Owen County, the council voted to approve with no opinion.

The council also reviewed the County Adjusted Gross Income Tax of .1 percent and the County Economic Development Income Tax, which is currently .003 percent. The council voted 7-0 for the rates to remain unchanged.

In an update from Owen County Auditor Angie Lawson, the council learned that anticipated 2013 River Boat funding from the state will total just $109,782, down from $136,337 received for 2012.

Lawson also said that if accepted by the county board of commissioners, a bid to purchase the Owen County Home property would add more than $100,000 to the county’s Future Building Fund, which currently has a balance of $30,830 for future building projects.

The Owen County Council will meet again on Monday, September 10, beginning at 7:00 p.m. in the Commissioners’ Room, located on the second floor of the Owen County Courthouse in Spencer.

The last move of the evening
was to approve a host of personnel
requests, including the following:
•Glee Kerr, K-8 treasurer.
•Leah Ehmen, CMS Treasurer.
•Ann Ruble, part-time to fulltime. •Autumn Butler, part-time to
•Sara Varnes, CHS volunteer
assistant girls’ basketball coach.
•Rod Mann, CHS volunteer assistant cross country coach.
•Jim Walter, CHS volunteer assistant cross country coach.
•Tim Blayden, CHS volunteer
assistant volleyball coach.
•Tom Winders, CHS & CMS
volunteer assistant football coach.

Renewal - High School
•Tisha Asbury, cheerleading
•Matthew Langdon, girls’ golf
•Kyle Walter, co-ed cross country coach.
•John Butler, head football
•David Petty, varsity assistant
football coach.
•Michael Nees, junior varsity
football coach
•Billy Boyette, varsity assistant
football coach.
•Brad Sczerbik, varsity assistant football coach.
•Kathy Moore, head volleyball
•Traci Scott, junior varsity volleyball coach.
•Matthew Langdon, head girls’
basketball coach.
•Daniel Varnes, junior varsity
girls’ basketball coach.
•Bonnie Helterbrand, assistant
varsity girls’ basketball coach.
•Pat Rady, head boys’ basketball coach.
•Patrick Rady, junior varsity
boys’ basketball coach.
•Greg Thomas, assistant varsity boys’ basketball coach.
•Steve Livingston, head wrestling coach.
•Brian Siddons, assistant wrestling coach.
•Susan Jordan, girls’ track
•Andy Tyler, boys’ track coach.
•Bryan Archer, varsity baseball

•Kurt Kyle, junior varsity baseball coach.
•Kim Bailey, junior varsity softball coach.
•TBD, varsity softball coach.
•TBD, boys’ golf coach.
Renewal - Middle School
•Brittany Hughes, cheerleading
•Jared Briles, fifth through
eighth co-ed cross country coach
•Adam Hoersten, seventh grade
football coach.
•Tim Savini, eighth grade head
football coach.
•Kristen Ferran, seventh grade
volleyball coach.
•Missy Carroll, eighth grade
volleyball coach.
•Tori Maldanado, seventh grade
girls’ basketball coach.
•Ed Stevens, eighth grade girls’
basketball coach.
•Bill Boyette, seventh grade
boys’ basketball coach.
•Jerry Neese, eighth grade boys’
basketball coach.
•Christian Frye, fifth through
eighth grade head wrestling coach.
•Brian Siddons, fifth through
eighth grade assistant wrestling
•Jennifer Mann, fifth through
eight grade girls’ track coach.
•TBD, fifth through eighth
grade boys’ track coach.
•TBD, seventh and eighth grade
boys’ baseball coach.
Resignation - Coaching
•Kathy Moore, CMS boys’ track

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We're curious: If you don't live in Gosport, did you make the trip out to Lazy Days this past weekend?