County Highway Superintendent Jason Peters discussed the 2022 Highway funding with the County Council last week.  He also gave the commissioners a written report of his funding issues this week.

Speaking on the fuel increases, Peters explained when he projected out for the year, he estimated $181,560 for diesel, $126,840 for gasoline, and $60,000 for off-road fuel bringing the total to $370,000. He said they budgeted $570,000 for 2022 but expenditures for the first three months of the year were already $237,100.  With the current fuel prices, it will take about $950,000 for the year meaning a shortfall of $200,000.   Peters also noted that prices for parts have increased too. 

Oil costs have gone up too.  The sealing oil rates have gone from $1.89 a gallon last year to $2.85 a gallon this year or a 51% increase to date.  He said they usually purchase 500,000 gallons.  In 2021 the total price was $945,000 while the projected cost this year is $1,425,000 a difference of $481,950.  Peters said it takes about 4,800 gallons per mile so they would be short 35 miles. 

Looking directly at road work, Peters said there is a 44% increase across the board.  He projected completing 27 miles of chip and seal, 29.25 miles of triple chip seal, and 10 miles of paving. To fund this year’s road plan he budgeted $1,000,000 from Motor Vehicle Highway and $475,000 from Local Road and Streets for a total of $1,475,000, knowing he would be short $784,680 if all the work was completed.  With the inflation, the shortfall increased to $1,778,939.

The community crossings application submitted to INDOT was for $1,552,440.  Receiving the community crossing grant of $1 million left $552,440 for the county to cover.  Paving contractors are estimating a 25% increase, so the local funds increase to $940,550.

The County Highway Superintendent said the additional paving projects that would be completed along with the Community Crossing projects are 1st Road from Tamarack to the County Line, Sycamore Road from 9th Road to Lincolnway/US30, Union Road from 9C to 10B, and 12th Road from North Michigan to Maple Road.  Those projects were estimated at $1,208,592.  The 25% projected increase would make that amount $1,510,740. 

When you put it all together Superintendent Peters estimated a shortfall of $2.2 million for the highway department this year.

When asked if the county council had questions Auditor Julie Fox asked if the anticipated inflation would have any impact on the current projects and Jason said a definite yes.