Cost increases for road projects

The increase in gas and oil prices hit the Prairie Township road and cemetery department hard, causing $35,000 of extra expenses, which the township plans to cover with reimbursements from Franklin County.

The township budgeted $271,000 for an annual re-paving and road improvement project for this year, the total cost as estimated by Franklin County engineers.

According to Prairie Township Administrator Tracy Hatmaker, the spike in gas and oil prices, combined with an increase in concrete and materials prices, drove the total cost of road repairs up to around $300,000, leaving the township to decide whether to cut specific areas from the project or go ahead and dip into the township’s general fund to complete it.

Township officials aren’t happy with either choice.

Earlier this year, the township shelled out over $38,000 to demolish the vacant Stiles and Mix Avenue apartments buildings. As approved by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, that amount will be reimbursed to the township’s general fund, in full.

A portion of that refund will in turn pay for the remaining cost of the road improvement project and any left over will join the general fund as revenue to the township, according to Hatmaker.

“The board does a good job of trying to keep the budget tight and under control. They didn’t want to approve the cost of the road repairs without knowledge of the reimbursement,” said Hatmaker.

The township appropriated $35,000 to the road improvement project and the rest of the $3,000 to the general fund.

In other news, the Prairie Township Fire Department aims to coordinate all consoles to one and thereby increase efficiency with the purchase of a new dispatch console and radio.

The upgrade from a more than 20-year-old radio to a new 800 MHz radio will clarify communication by muffling background noise, and connect to the new console.

The old system will also run off of the new console, designed to enhance efficiency by coordinating all operations to one console and allowing the fire department to record multiple dispatches, according to fire fighter Dale Spring who is designated to follow-up on the department’s communication equipment.

Fire Chief Stephen Feustel said, “We did a lot of research on this.”

Feustel recommended at the July 16 township trustee meeting that the township purchase the radio and console from Boylan & Cannon Electronics for $20,071, which the township approved.

Also in Prairie Township, the newly formed township commercial building department, in its first week in operation, conditionally approved the foundation and outside shell of the new Walgreens, which is taking the place of Frisch’s Big Boy on West Broad Street.

Walgreens will submit a more detailed plan for the interior in terms of the plumbing, heating, electrical wiring, and other aspects at a later date.

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