Commissioners withdraw $100K roads request

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Will schedule meeting to allow more public input

By Kevin Koelling, Managing Editor

TELL CITY – Perry County's commissioners withdrew their request to spend more than $100,000 on a road-maintenance-management system before the county council could act on it Tuesday.

"I am going to make a motion that we withdraw our request for the money from the county council," Commissioner Jody Fortwendel said in a regular meeting Monday, attributing the move to "poor timing, not due to the fact that we don't need the program, because we do."

Commissioner Gary Dauby seconded the motion.

"Are you in favor of that?" he asked the third commissioner, Bill Amos.

"Yeah, but not for the same reason," Amos responded.

He couldn't support Fortwendel's claim that the county needs the system, he explained. It was first proposed in a December meeting, before his term began. The commissioners in place then deferred action until the new year. David Goffinet, representing the Evansville engineering firm, Bernardin, Lochmueller and Associates, presented information about the company's Street and Road Management System at meetings before and after Amos replaced Don Sherry. Goffinet explained the system would permit county officials to spend road-paving and maintenance funds more efficiently.

Amos questioned the expense, which Goffinet said would include $11,000 to $12,000 in annual maintenance after the initial investment.

Amos voted against buying the system at the Jan. 5 commissioners meeting, but Dauby and Fortwendel approved it, sending it to the county council. One council member, Pete Franzman, attended the commissioners' Jan. 21 meeting, and cautioned against buying an expensive system, then abandoning it after a couple of years, as was done in the past. He wasn't sure the council could find the money to pay for it this year.

County residents attending 2009 commissioners meetings questioned the need for the purchase, saying the county highway department should be familiar enough with local roads to prioritize paving and upkeep needs. Others who drive the roads frequently, such as school-bus drivers, could add to their knowledge base, if necessary, one suggested.

Asked after Monday's meeting to elaborate on "poor timing," Dauby said, "we feel that there are more people in the community who want some input on that. We haven't had (it) on other tools that we've used on the county highways, but for this particular tool, some people want to have some say-so." A community meeting will be scheduled where Goffinet can present information on the program again, he added.

Amos said Tuesday he's "proud of the people of Perry County for getting involved on this."

The commissioners' next regular meeting is scheduled for 8 a.m. Feb. 18.