County News # 1Marshall County Commissioner Mike Burroughs questioned Commissioner Stan Klotz on his “Better Roads Ahead” program during their meeting Monday morning.

Burroughs said, “Jason’s (Peters) done a great job and we reviewed here a couple weeks ago the money that he’s spent and the roads that they have done and we all agreed that the Highway Department’s done a fantastic job.”  He went on to ask Commissioner Klotz about his proposed road plan noting it was January 2021 and he still doesn’t know what that road plan is.

Commissioner Klotz said, “Number one, I don’t do anything as far as picking the roads, Jason picks the roads.  What we need to do is make a commitment to get more funding in these roads if we are going to get ahead of the game.”  He went on to say, “Your not going to fix 10 years of neglect in one or two years of normal funding.”

Burroughs questioned Klotz saying, “We went through the budget process and no extra funds were asked for or requested.  Now we are in January and we still don’t have any more funds requested to put toward a road program.”  Burroughs also asked Klotz how the road program differs from what he wants to have happen.

Klotz said he wanted to see more.  He said, “He’s doing what he needs to do.  We just need to do more with more funding.  I would suggest we look at $2 million more bucks.”

When asked where the additional funding would come from Klotz said money in the General Fund and Rainy-Day Fund would be an option and he mentioned House Bill 1311. This bill which is authored by Jack Jordan would allow money accumulated from the Special LIT for the Criminal Justice Facility, after the tax is terminated, be transferred to the county jail fund rather than to the County Highway Department.

Klotz would like to county to pay off the jail bond as-soon-as possible saying, “If we pay that bond off early that will give us $1.1 to $1.4 million.  You can use it elsewhere or keep it for the jail.  I mean get some flexibility.  We have to think outside the box.  We are not going to fix these roads on normal MVH (motor vehicle highway) funds.”

Klotz said he would be willing to sit down with the County Council as suggested by their new President Tim Harmon at their meeting last week.  He said, “I’m in favor of having a meeting.  Let’s sit down and go over the budget and at look what we can do. There’s money there if we want to do things.”

Commissioner Kevin Overmyer reminded Klotz that if the jail bond is paid off in 2022 the Special LIT goes away.  Klotz said he would reestablish the tax rate by going back to the state legislator with a special piece of legislation.  Overmyer said that special legislation couldn’t go before the legislator until 2024 and asked what the county would do in the meantime to operate the jail.  Overmyer said there is over $1 million of Special LIT budgeted for jail operations in the 2021 budget that wouldn’t be available if the bond is retired.

Klotz said there is $13.6 million between the General Fund and Rainy-Day fund that could be used for roads.

Commissioner Burroughs said he had concerns that once the COVID-19 pandemic goes away the jail population will increase and the need to build another pod at the jail will creep up again.  It was also noted that there are about 1,200 warrants waiting to be served.

Klotz said, “I was told by people in the judiciary they think we can keep the population at 180 to 210.  With the fourth court coming we can reduce the back-long, I think it’s realistic.”  Commissioner Klotz said the county is sitting on $13 to $14 million and the county should be able to come up with a little more for roads.

Commissioner Overmyer asked Auditor Julie Fox is the county had $13 million and she said he, Klotz is combining the General Fund and Rainy Day.  She also noted that there are budgeted items in both the General Fund and Rainy-Day Fund so the funds aren’t spendable.  Overmyer said there is a million dollars budgeted for the clocktower this year and Klotz admitted that there are funds for the fourth court budgeted too.

The road plan is under the commissioners, but funding is handled by the county council.

Commissioner Klotz said, “Mike, to answer your question about the road plan, it’s simply funding.”

Commissioners Klotz will be our guest on Wednesday’s What’s Your Opinion Show about 10 a.m.