More money for county roads in 2020

(Posted Dec. 4, 2019)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

In 2020, the Madison County Engineer’s Office plans to spend significantly more on road materials and contracted projects than it did this year.

A hike in the state gas tax, passed earlier this year, is putting an additional $1.6 million in the Engineer’s Office coffers, making the increased spending possible.

On Dec. 3, County Engineer Bryan Dhume outlined his proposed budget to the county commissioners. The total budget is $7.4 million.

He said $1.78 million (up from $1.25 million) will go toward materials his crews use on road projects and $818,000 (up from just over $566,000) will go to work done by outside crews.

Now that the debt on the engineer’s facility is cleared–the last payment was made this year–Dhume also plans to create a reserve/contingency line in his budget for matching funds for grants and emergencies. He’s starting with $250,000 in 2020.

“Before, if we had an emergency, we would have to dip into another (budget) line, which meant some other job was not going to get done, or we would have to get into our carryover balance, which would impact our cash balance,” Dhume said.

Dhume is budgeting more for equipment than he did last year, going from $511,780 in 2019 to $573,500 in 2020. His long-term goal is to get into a rotation that doesn’t involve running equipment into the ground before replacing it.

He pointed to the department’s asphalt distributor, a 2001 model.

“That one piece of equipment is responsible for our $800,000 chip sealing program. Everything relies on that one piece of equipment to do the job well,” he said.

He plans to buy a new asphalt distributor next year at a cost of $200,000.

About his equipment budget, Dhume said, “It is double what was in place before I took office.”

The county commissioners plan to further review Dhume’s proposed budget for 2020 before signing off on it.

The Engineer’s Office is different from other county departments in that it does not receive money from the county. Most of its revenues come from the state gas tax ($4 million in 2020) and license plate fees ($2.3 million in 2020). The rest comes from reimbursements the department receives for work it does for other government entities, such as townships (an estimated $1 million in 2020). Even so, the commissioner must approve the department’s spending plan.

Propane at TSC

Tractor Supply Co. (TSC) wants to sell bulk propane at its store at 300 Lafayette St., London.

The company rents the property from the county, so they are seeking permission from the county commissioners to install a 1,000-gallon tank with a propane dispenser cabinet in the parking lot in front of the store. To do so, they need to bore under the pavement to get power to the cabinet.

In the request, TSC wrote that they plan to place the propane station outside their fenced outdoor display area.

“I want to know exactly where it’s going to be,” said Commissioner Tony Xenikis. “I want it inside the fence.”

Commissioner David Hunter said he doesn’t mind the station being placed outside the fenced area, as long as it remains in the footprint of the space the company rents from the county.

The commissioners decided to request more specific information about the proposed location of the station before granting the request.

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