On March 19th the Marshall County Commissioners passed an ordinance by a 3-0 vote on all three reading to increase the tax rate for the Cum Bridge fund up to $.0524. This was done following a public hearing where there was NO PUBLIC COMMENT.
Following the adoption of the ordinance the public had 30 days to petition against the increase and only 10 certified tax payers were required.
County Auditor Julie Fox said there were a total of 17 petitions and 12 were certified by her. She also noted that the fund has been in existence since the 1980’s and initially the rate was set at $.12 per $100 of assessed evaluation.
Also speaking in favor of the rate increase was Kevin Overmyer, President of the County Commissioners. Overmyer told the hearing officer that Marshall County has 117 bridges the commissioners are responsible for. He said they are inspected every 4 years and the county recently had USI Consultants create a Comprehensive Bridge Management Plan. Overmyer said, “Our expenses continue and our revenues are not keeping up with our expenditures.” He also noted that in 2019 the Cum Bridge fund is expected to be in the red by $25,000. The commissioner said, “Bridges are essential to this county. We have the Yellow River that goes through and we don’t want to get into the situation where we have to start closing roads or putting weight limits on the bridges for the public’s safety.”
Phil Beer from USI said his company created a 10 year bridge plan giving the county a way to determine which bridges need rehab or replacement. He noted, “The plan only addressed bridge structures over 20 feet long. It doesn’t include the hundreds of structures that are between 3 foot and 20 foot that are considered small structures.” He said those costs can also come out of the Cum Bridge fund.
Currently, prior to all of the flooding this year, Marshall County has 13 bridges which need to be replaced and 3 rehabbed. Of those 16 structures, 11 are over the Yellow River and will cost between $1.5 and $2.5 million just for the construction.
The bridge plan uses a pro-rated cost and from 2019 on the county can expect to spend between $1.2 to $1.8 million just to maintain what the county currently has. He said, “With the current funding level that they have, $700,000 or so, obviously that not enough.”
Jon Van Vactor from the County Council told the hearing officer that the county has had the same rate of $.0262 since 2004. He said the increase would bring over $600,000 annually into the Cum Bridge fund. Van Vactor said the bridge management plan shows the county in the red in 2019 in the amount of $25,000. In 2020 that defeciate increases to $1,204,600 and in 2028 the estimated expenses over revenues will be $3,489,600. Van vactor closed his comments by saying, “I just like everyone else do not like paying more taxes but we must maintain the county bridges and that takes tax money. I support the increase to the Cum Bridge Fund.”
After those speaking in favor of the rate increase, those opposed to the increase had their chance.
No one spoke or even showed up for the hearing on the opposing side. County Auditor Julie Fox did comment that one petitioner, Beverly Samons who lives on 8th Road in Bourbon contacted her and said she would submit written evidence to the DLGF within the 7 day window of the hearing. Others can submit on either side before the deadline of Wednesday, May 16th. Submissions can be done at:
DLGF Indiana Government Center North, Room 1058 100 North Senate Avenue Indianapolis, IN 46204
Or email dmarusary@dlgf,in.gov